Making Municipal Autonomy More Than a State of Mind:

  • 2013

Making Municipal Autonomy More Than a State of Mind:

The Evolution of Home Rule in West Virginia
Author:
Karl Hafer Jr.
Abstract:

This paper is an examination of the causes and the consequences of a uniquely unbalanced power structure in West Virginia with centralized state bodies making decisions that are routinely considered local concerns in other states. The purpose of this paper is to discuss and understand both the legal and historical context of the issue to properly evaluate current and future legislative actions. Unpacking the complicated arrangement that defines state and local power in West Virginia also requires an understanding of the structure of state institutions, a consideration of state and local politics, and an appreciation of the unique budgetary constraints that have traditionally plagued the state. In 2007, the West Virginia Legislature created the Home Rule Pilot Project which granted broad powers to four municipalities in West Virginia. After a five year study and audit of the program, the state legislature determined that the program was overwhelmingly successful and should be extended statewide.