Home Rule: Legislators must stop dragging their feet

Nearly three weeks ago, the West Virginia state Senate amended and passed Senate Bill 4, which would make the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program permanent. Just a few days prior, however, the House of Delegates Government Organization Committee had tabled its version of the bill, and the House has not taken up SB 4. It is not on the committee’s agenda for today.

Feet-dragging began when members of the House committee stalled on a motion to strip language from the bill preventing municipalities from enacting rules or ordinances contrary to the state Workplace Freedom Act and Labor-Management Relations Act.

Instead of sorting it out, they tabled the motion; and have not yet considered working on it (or, rather, the Senate’s similar bill).

That is a bit of a problem for places like Vienna and Parkersburg, where officials would very much like to know whether the program under which they have managed to make some progress will expire July 1 or be made permanent.

Parkersburg City Council is now trying to establish measures regulating motorized bicycles and expanding ways in which the city can issue citations regarding nuisance materials on residential properties, before the chance to do so might evaporate.

There is also some confusion about what could happen to municipal sales taxes in both those cities, should the Home Rule program expire.

Municipalities in West Virginia need answers, and they need some assurance lawmakers are willing to give them.

Yes, technically they have until March 9 to do something about it, but it would be a shame if members of the House waited too long to begin discussing the bill, only to run into another stumbling block.

Of course there has been plenty on their plates in the last few days. But that pace will not diminish over the next two weeks.

It is time for them to give us some answers on Home Rule.

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