WEST Virginia has long restricted municipal officials' power to affect the cities they are responsible for running. The result is much the same as with public schools - weakness where strength would be preferable.
A few years ago, legislators unclenched enough to give Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling and Bridgeport a little bit more power to make needed changes. A legislative audit judged the program a success.
This tentative experiment in what is called "home rule" is due for renewal. The pioneer participants, and as many as 10 more, would gain a few additional powers to affect their regulations, taxes and procedures.
Cities that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians desperately need more authority to direct their own affairs. This bill should pass.
Unfortunately, Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, tacked onto the bill a proposed change that could unnecessarily impede progress.
He would require cities that want to be in the program to abandon the municipal gun ordinances some have adopted.
The state's current gun law grandfathered in existing municipal gun ordinances. Charleston's law limits handgun purchases to one a month, for example.