(1) The future economic progress for the State of West Virginia is directly related to the success of its municipalities in that stronger municipalities will make for a stronger West Virginia;
(2) Municipalities face numerous challenges managing their budgets and delivering services required by federal or state law or demanded by their constituents;
(3) Municipalities 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 municipalities and metro governments in West Virginia to exercise broad-based home rule will allow the Legislature the opportunity to evaluate the viability of allowing municipalities 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 municipalities within which new ideas can be explored to see if they can or should be implemented on a statewide basis.
(c) Effective the first day of July, two thousand seven, there is hereby created a pilot program to be known as the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program authorizing five selected Class I, Class II and/or Class III municipalities and/or metro governments the authority 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 Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program the applicant shall:
(1) Be a Class I, Class II and/or Class III municipality and/or a metro government: Provided, That a municipality considering consolidation or establishing a metro government shall 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 municipality 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 the first day of July, two thousand seven, there is hereby created a Municipal 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;
(4) The chair of the House of Delegates Committee on Government Organization or a designee;
(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 municipalities and/or metro governments;
(2) Consulting with state agencies affected by the proposed plans;
(3) Selecting municipalities 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 the first day of January, two thousand eight, an eligible municipality 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 municipality 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 municipal ordinance authorizing the municipality to submit a proposed written plan to the Municipal Home Rule Board after the proposed municipal ordinance has been read two times.
(i) On or before the first day of June, two thousand eight, the board shall select by a majority vote of the board at least one, but not more than five municipalities and/or metro governments to participate in the pilot program.
(j) The pilot municipalities 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 municipalities 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 the first day of July, two thousand twelve, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance shall conduct a performance review on the pilot program and the participating municipalities and/or metro governments. The review shall include the following:
(1) An evaluation of the effectiveness of expanded home rule on the participating municipalities 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 the first day of January, two thousand thirteen, 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 the first day of July, two thousand thirteen.
(n) No ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules or regulations may be enacted by a municipality or metro government after the first day of July, two thousand thirteen, pursuant to the provisions of this section, unless otherwise authorized by the Legislature.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session