City officials from Oak Hill will meet today with the state’s Municipal Home Rule Board, arguing for inclusion in the Municipal Home Rule pilot program.
The Legislature created the Municipal Home Rule pilot program in 2007, authorizing the board to approve the inclusion of up to five municipalities in the five-year program. The cities of Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling were approved for the initial slots.
The purpose of the program, according to its website, is to offer “broad-based home rule authority to participating municipalities by allowing them to implement ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations without regard to state laws, with the exception that proposals had to comply with the U.S. Constitution, federal law,” and three specific chapters of West Virginia Code: “Uniform Controlled Substance Act,” “Crimes and Their Punishment,” and “Criminal Procedure.”
The Legislature determined the program would afford participating municipalities “greater flexibility to operate in a more cost-effective, efficient and timely manner.”
In 2013, the Legislature extended the program for an initial five years and expanded the number of participants to 20. A total of 23 cities and towns applied for home rule status in the recent application period which ended June 1.
Because more cities applied than the program could accept for its 16 available spots, the Municipal Home Rule Board set up a series of regional hearings at which officials will argue the case for their respective cities to be included. The first of the regional meetings will be held today in Beckley for officials from Oak Hill, Bluefield, Lewisburg and Princeton.
Other regional hearings and applicants are:
- Aug. 4 at 8 a.m., Charleston — Dunbar, Milton, Nitro, South Charleston and St. Albans;
- Aug. 11 at 8 a.m., Wheeling — Moundsville, Parkersburg, Vienna and Weirton;
- Aug. 25 at 8 a.m., Bridgeport — Buckhannon, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown and Shinnston; and
- Sept. 8 at 8 a.m., Martinsburg — Bath (Berkeley Springs), Charles Town, Martinsburg and Ranson.