Sen. Brooks McCabe
The successful Home Rule Pilot Project will continue for another five years in West Virginia but it will do so without restrictive gun purchase ordinances.
The legislature agreed to a compromise bill Sat. night and sent it to the governor that would continue Home Rule and add 16 cities to the existing four that have been part of the program.
But the provision in the bill getting the most attention is the one that would eliminate any city from consideration that has a restrictive gun ordinance, like the one in the City of Charleston.
Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, who co-chaired the conference committee Sat, told MetroNews the bill would have not have passed without the House gun measure.
“They (House) sent us a message loud and clear that they wanted that provision in the Home Rule bill,” Snyder said. “Clearly if the gun provision would have been stripped out the bill was dead.”
Snyder says if Charleston wants to continue to be a part of Home Rule it will have to make a decision after the new program begins July 1.
The bill says an ordinance like Charleston’s would be null and void after 90 days if the city is accepted into the new Home Rule program. A provision not to allow guns in public buildings would be allowed.
Snyder says Charleston’s current ordinance wouldn’t fly.
“If they were to choose voluntarily to do that would take away the three-day waiting period to buy a handgun and the one a month handgun restriction. That will be their choice,” Snyder said.
The veteran senator it’s a shame that bill to continue a successful program got hung up in the gun issue. He says at least the program will continue and more cities, no matter their size, will be able to apply to be a part of Home Rule the next five years. The Home Rule Board would decide which cities get in.
“This is about innovative ideas for cities,” Snyder said.
But Sen. Brooks McCabe, Sen. Corey Palumbo, Sen. Erik Wells, all of Kanawha County, were very critical of the bill and the 19 restrictions it puts on Home Rule cities including guns, marriage and divorce.
Palumbo called the bill “home rule lite.” This is ‘we trust you municipalities but we don’t trust you very much. We don’t trust you very much at all,’” Palumbo said.
Sen. McCabe said unfortunately the bill turned out to be more about guns and gays than it did giving cities what they need to be successful.
Wells says he supports the Second Amendment and the Constitution but lawmakers need to be better leaders.
“We do need to be concerned about the next generation and not the next election,” Wells said.
Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling and Bridgeport have taken advantage of Home Rule during the past five years. Charleston hopes to get a tax increase approved to finance improvements to the Charleston Civic Center before the July 1 deadline.
Currently Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar and Martinsburg have more restrictive gun ordinances than the rest of the state. South Charleston has shown some interest in getting involved in Home Rule in the next round. So it too may have a decision to make.