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Copyright (c) 2005 West Virginia Law Review
West Virginia Law Review

ARTICLE: CONSTITUTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM IN WEST VIRGINIA

Fall, 2005

West Virginia Law Review

108 W. Va. L. Rev. 125

Author

Robert M. Bastress, Jr. *

Excerpt



In 1989, at the urging of Governor Gaston Caperton, the West Virginia Legislature submitted to the State's voters the County Organization Reform Amendment, which would have amended Article IX of the West Virginia Constitution to authorize the Legislature to consolidate counties with local voters' consent, 1 develop three or more alternative forms of county governance, 2 provide for county home rule, 3 create city-county governments with local voter approval, 4 and permit increases in local officials' salaries during their terms of office. 5 The electorate rejected the proposal by better than a four to one margin. 6 A decade and a half later, state leaders have once again expressed interest in local government reform and, in particular, in county consolidation, regionalization, and city-county governments. For example, after considerable study, the Governor's Commission on Governing in the 21st Century 7 issued its report in November, 2004, and recommended numerous changes, some of which found their way into bills introduced in the 2005 legislative session. 8 None, however, were enacted. Numerous and diverse groups and voices have persistently advocated for, or addressed in some fashion, local government reform. 9

This article takes the position that neither the 1989 vote rejecting local government reform nor the State Constitution precludes such reform, including most all of those measures rejected in 1989. 10 Ironically, the Legislature did not, and does not, need statewide voters' approval to proceed to restructure local governments; if it wants to create the opportunity for reform, it can. ...
 
 
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