CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Municipal League's annual conference began last night at the Charleston Marriott, and over 300 representatives from towns and cities across the state are attending the three-day event.
"It's a record-breaking number of attendants this year," said Lisa Dooley, the municipal league's executive director.
This year's conference will focus heavily on home rule in light of the West Virginia Legislature's decision to expand the home rule program from four to 16 municipalities. Because incorporated areas won't be able to apply to become one of those municipalities until January, Dooley said the conference will have speakers from existing home rule cities to discuss the program with potential applicants.
Dooley suspected that the large number of conference participants this year is due to the home rule information sessions.
Currently, only Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling and Bridgeport are home rule cities under the state's existing pilot program.
Home rule allows municipalities to pass ordinances without regard to nearly all state laws, as long as city code does not violate the U.S. or West Virginia constitutions, federal law and certain state laws.
Other sessions at this year's meeting will deal with cable franchising, fire and police department pensions and training for municipal judges.
Like similar organizations for county government, the municipal league promotes networking among cities and represents interests of municipalities in the legislature.
The league also provides a database of sample ordinances created by different municipalities around the state for member cities.