About the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program

The West Virginia Legislature created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program in 2007.  The Municipal Home Rule Board was established to oversee the program, which was set to expire on July 1, 2013. The home rule statute empowered home rule municipalities to be creative in addressing local issues and challenges by implementing ordinances, resolutions, rules, and regulations not otherwise available because of various one-size-fits-all West Virginia statutes that apply to all municipalities. The freedom granted home rule municipalities is limited to the extent they must continue to comply with the U.S. Constitution; the West Virginia Constitution; federal law; and chapters sixty-a (uniform Controlled Substance Act), sixty-one (Crimes and Their Punishment), and sixty-two (Criminal Procedure) of the West Virginia Code.
 
The 2007 home rule statute authorized up to five municipalities to participate in the pilot program. The Home Rule Board approved Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington, and Wheeling as the initial participants.
 
As required by statute, the West Virginia Legislative Auditor evaluated the Home Rule Pilot Program and issued a Special Report in November 2012. This report discusses the accomplishments of the participating municipalities, evaluates the effectiveness of the program, and offers the following recommendations regarding the future of the program:
 
  1. The legislature should consider providing home rule authority to all Class I, Class II, and Class III municipalities.
  2. If home rule is extended to all Class I, Class II, and Class III municipalities, the current statutory restrictions as stipulated in the pilot program should be retained.
  3. The Home Rule Board should be discontinued if home rule is granted statewide.
 
In 2013, the West Virginia Legislature amended the home rule statute. These amendments include legislative findings that the pilot program had enabled participating municipalities to be innovative in addressing local issues in a cost-effective, efficient, and timely manner. In fact, some of the ordinances adopted by home rule municipalities are now part of the West Virginia Code.
 
The 2013 amendments opened the pilot program to 20 more municipalities; gave the four participating municipalities until June 1, 2014, to withdraw from the program (no municipalities withdrew); and set June 1, 2014, as the deadline for municipalities wishing to participate in the program to submit their written plans to the Home Rule Board.
 
On October 6, 2014, the Home Rule Board accepted the following 16 cities into the pilot program: Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Clarksburg, Dunbar, Fairmont, Martinsburg, Milton, Morgantown, Nitro, Parkersburg, Ranson, Shinnston, South Charleston, Vienna, and Weirton.
 
The legislature again amended the home rule statute in 2014. These amendments prohibit participating municipalities from passing ordinances that conflict with state statutes regarding the purchase, ownership, carrying, and storage of certain firearms and ammunition.
 
Most recently, the legislature rewrote the home rule statute in 2015. The new home rule statute opened the pilot program for an additional 14 municipalities, four of which had to be Class IV municipalities.
 
Beckley, Grafton, Princeton, St. Albans, Moundsville, and Oak Hill were accepted into the pilot program on September 14, 2015. Elkins and Harpers Ferry were granted home rule status on November 16, 2015. Auburn, Lewisburg, New Cumberland, and Shepherdstown were granted home rule status on April 4, 2016. Follansbee and Weston filled the remaining openings for home rule municipalities on July 11, 2016. There are now 34 home rule municipalities in West Virginia.
 

board members

The Honorable Dave Hardy
Cabinet Secretary
West Virginia Department of Revenue
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
Chair Designee for Governor Jim Justice

Mr. Mark A. Polen
5004 Bennington Drive
Cross Lanes, West Virginia 25313
Business and Industry Council Representative

Mr. Brian Jones
President, Professional Firefighters of West Virginia
1296 Forman Drive
Morgantown, WV 26508

Mr. Chris Fletcher
Planning Director
City of Morgantown
389 Spruce Street
Morgantown, West Virginia  26505
West Virginia Chapter of American Institute of Certified Planners

Wesley H. White, Esquire
Attorney II
West Virginia Department of Commerce
State Capitol Complex
1900 Kanawha Blvd
Building 3, Suite 300
Charleston, WV 25305-0311
Designee of the Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office

The Honorable Ed Gaunch
West Virginia State Senate
State Capitol Complex
Building 1, Room 217W
Charleston, West Virginia  25305-0311
Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization
Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member

The Honorable Gary Howell
West Virginia House of Delegates
State Capitol Complex
Building 1, Room 213-E
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0311
Chair of the House of Delegates Committee on Government Organization
Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member

media inquiries:

Kathy A. Torlone

Executive Assistant to the Secretary

West Virginia Department of Revenue
(304) 558-0755