H. B. 2957
(By Delegates Azinger, A. Evans and Romine)
[Introduced March 18, 2013; referred to the
Committee on Political Subdivisions then Government Organizations.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §7-1-1c relating to county commissions generally; authorizing a pilot program to increase powers of county self government; the County Home Rule Pilot Program; legislative findings; authorizing certain counties to participate in the program; creating a County Home Rule Board; stating the powers and duties of the board and membership; written plan requirements for counties; ordinance requirements for counties; powers and duties of the participating counties; prohibiting certain acts by participating counties; amending the written plan; termination date of the pilot program; reporting requirements; and the effect of ordinances passed by the counties participating in the pilot program.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §7-1-1c, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. COUNTY COMMISSIONS GENERALLY.
§7-1-1c. Pilot program to increase powers of county self government.
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) The future economic progress for the State of West Virginia is directly related to the success of its counties in that stronger counties will make for a stronger West Virginia;
(2) Counties face numerous challenges managing their budgets and delivering services required by federal or state law or demanded by their constituents;
(3) Counties are sometimes restricted by state statutes, policies, rules and responsibilities that prevent them from carrying out their duties and responsibilities in a cost-effective, efficient and timely manner; and
(4) Authorizing pilot counties and metro governments in West Virginia to exercise broad-based home rule will allow the Legislature the opportunity to evaluate the viability of allowing counties to have broad-based state home rule to improve urban and state development.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to establish a framework for counties within which new ideas can be explored to see if they can or should be implemented on a statewide basis.
(c) Effective July 1, 2013, there is hereby created a pilot program to be known as the County Home Rule Pilot Program authorizing five selected counties to enact any ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations not contrary to the Constitutions of the United States or West Virginia, federal law or chapters sixty-a, sixty-one and sixty-two of this code.
(d) To be eligible to participate in the County Home Rule Pilot Program the applicant shall:
(1) Be a county government: Provided, That a county considering consolidation or establishing a metro government may have no more than two years from the date it is selected for the pilot program to complete its consolidation or metro government process or its participation in the pilot program will terminate at the end of the two-year period; and
(2) Have a written plan stating in detail the following:
(A) The specific laws, policies, rules or regulations which prevent the county from carrying out its duties in the most cost-efficient, effective and timely manner;
(B) The problems created by the laws, policies, rules or regulations; and
(C) The proposed solutions to the problems, including all proposed changes to ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations.
(e) Effective July 1, 2013, there is hereby created a County Home Rule Board consisting of the following seven members:
(1) The Governor, or a designee, who shall serve as chair;
(2) The Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office or a designee;
(3) The Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization or a designee as a nonvoting member;
(4) The Chair of the House of Delegates Committee on Government Organization or a designee as a nonvoting member;
(5) One member shall be a representative of the Business and Industry Council;
(6) One member shall be a representative of the largest labor organization in the state; and
(7) One member shall be a representative of the West Virginia Chapter of American Institute of Certified Planners.
(f) The board has the powers necessary to implement the provisions of this section, including the following:
(1) Reviewing, evaluating and making recommendations to the proposed plans submitted by eligible counties and/or metro governments;
(2) Consulting with state agencies affected by the proposed plans;
(3) Selecting counties and/or metro governments to participate in the pilot program;
(4) Approving the plans of recommended pilot program participants, as submitted or as modified; and
(5) Authorizing amendments to approved plans.
(g) On or before January 1, 2014, an eligible county and/or metro government wanting to participate in the pilot program shall submit a written plan as described in subdivision (2), subsection (d) of this section to the board.
(h) Prior to submitting a written plan, the county shall:
(1) Conduct a public hearing on the proposed written plan;
(2) Provide at least thirty days’ notice of the public hearing by a Class II legal advertisement;
(3) Make a copy of the proposed written plan available for public inspection at least thirty days prior to the public hearing; and
(4) After the public hearing, adopt a county ordinance authorizing the county to submit a proposed written plan to the County Home Rule Board after the proposed county ordinance has been read two times.
(i) On or before June 1, 2014, the board shall select by a majority vote of the board at least one, but not more than five counties and/or metro governments to participate in the pilot program.
(j) The pilot counties and/or metro governments selected to participate in the pilot program shall have the following powers:
(1) The authority to pass any ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations not contrary to the Constitutions of the United States or West Virginia, federal law or chapters sixty-a, sixty-one and sixty-two of this code as specified in their written and approved plans: Provided, That the pilot counties may not adopt any ordinance, rule, regulation or resolution or take any action that would create a defined contribution employee pension or retirement plan for its employees currently covered by a defined benefit pensions plan; and
(2) Any other powers necessary to implement the provisions of its approved plan.
(k) Before July 1, 2017, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance shall conduct a performance review on the pilot program and the participating counties and/or metro governments. The review shall include the following:
(1) An evaluation of the effectiveness of expanded home rule on the participating counties and/or metro governments;
(2) A recommendation as to whether the expanded home rule should be continued, reduced, expanded or terminated;
(3) A recommendation as to whether any legislation is necessary; and
(4) Any other issues considered relevant.
(l) On or before January 1, 2018, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance shall report to the Joint Committee on Government Organization the findings of the performance review.
(m) The pilot program terminates on July 1, 2018.
(n) No ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules or regulations may be enacted by a municipality or metro government after July 1, 2018, pursuant to the provisions of this section, unless otherwise authorized by the Legislature.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize a pilot program to increase powers of county self government or a County Home Rule Pilot Program.
This section is new; therefore, it has been completely underscored.