Local governments are creatures of the state and must look to the state for authority through state constitutions, local charters, and state legislation. The lines between state and local government authority can be contentious. Across the country, many local governments seek the right to govern themselves, aka “home rule.”
West Virginia launched its Home Rule Pilot Program in 2007 allowing for greater municipal self-determination within the limits of state law. This program has increased innovation in municipalities by allowing them to respond to individual demands through tailored regulation and has served as a national model for other states looking to expand municipal powers. Municipal regulation covers topics such as energy facility siting, anti-discrimination, minimum wage, gun regulations, and consumer protection.
West Virginia made the Home Rule Pilot Program permanent in 2019. As a result, the 2020 West Virginia Law Review Symposium will explore the development of “home rule” and the tensions that arise between the state and local governments.