The West Virginia Legislature created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program in 2007. The enabling statute empowered municipalities participating in the program to be creative in addressing local problems by implementing ordinances, rules, and regulations not otherwise available because of the various one-size-fits-all statutes that apply to all municipalities. Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington, and Wheeling were accepted as the first participants in the program.
The home rule statute,
W. Va. Code § 8-1-5a, has been amended four times. Most recently, the 2019 Legislature rewrote the statute to make the pilot program a permanent program, open the program to all West Virginia municipalities (only four Class IV municipalities can be admitted to the program annually), and establish a $2,000 annual fee to be paid by each participating municipality beginning July 1, 2019.
The Municipal Home Rule Program is administered by the West Virginia Home Rule Board.
The Board typically meets at least four times a year, and consists of the following five voting members:
- The Governor, or a designee, who shall serve as chair;
- The Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office, or a designee;
- One member representing the Business and Industry Council, appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate;
- One member representing the largest labor organization in the state, appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; and
- One member representing the West Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Certified Planners, appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
The Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization and the Chair of the House Committee on Government Organization serve as ex officio nonvoting members of the Board.