CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Secretary of State Natalie Tennant supported 17 pieces of legislation this session and saw 15 of those bills passed by the session's end Saturday night.
Among the successful bills were measures to allow investigators from her office to carry concealed weapons; help counties clean up voter registration rolls; and allow individuals to register to vote online.
Tennant said the Legislature passed more Secretary of State-backed bills than in any year since she took office in 2009.
"Some of these bills, it's like the third year. It just all worked out this year," she said.
This year Tennant made sure to line up support from all parties affected by her bills: county clerks, agencies like the Division of Motor Vehicles and the state Ethics Commission, along with lobbying groups like the state bankers association.
"We were able to present it to the Legislature and show we were a unified effort," she said. "It makes it easier for the lawmakers."
Tennant said she also had staff members collaborate with House and Senate committee lawyers, who help committee members work through technical issues with bills. With about 2,000 pieces of legislation introduced each year — and only a tenth will survive to become law — she said it is important to get lawmakers the best information possible, as soon as possible.
While some of the bills are only technical clean-ups to existing laws, Senate Bill 477 will allow West Virginia citizens to register to vote from their home computers.
Starting next year, residents will be able to visit the Secretary of State's website and enter their personal information, which then will be submitted to their county clerk's office. The process requires a driver's license or other state-issued ID.
Tennant said county clerks reserve the right to deny applications that appear fraudulent. If the application is accepted, residents will receive their voters' registration card in the mail.
The bill, which had been introduced in two previous legislative sessions, passed the state Senate unanimously and the House of Delegates on a 79-20 vote. It now awaits Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's signature.