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The Legislature needs to help cities grow

The time has come to remove the pilot from home rule program

WEST Virginia has more than 100 municipalities with 1,000 or more residents. They suffer over-regulation by the state - including overly-generous pension plans - and strict limitations on taxes.

While certainly cities need oversight, the Legislature smothers the cities and stifles their growth.

But help is on the way, lawmakers say.

For the past five years, lawmakers have graciously allowed four cities to enjoy a little home rule.

Next year, that will be expanded to 20 and cities are scrambling to make the Sweet 16 who will be allowed to join Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling in having their mayors and city councils run City Hall with little interference from the state.

Already Dunbar, Nitro, St. Albans and South Charleston are going through the unduly elaborate process to make the final round.

The cities are treated as contestants. It's like Dancing With The Stars for government.

First, they have to submit a written plan "stating in detail" the specific state laws and regulations that hinder their municipality. The applicants also have to outline the problems caused by the state law and what the proposed solution is.

The city also must submit a letter from a lawyer that states the proposed plan does not violate the home rule law. And for good measure, there must be a public hearing.

Enough.

The time has come to make the pilot program just a program. The pilot worked and so it should apply to all incorporated areas.

State lawmakers should worry about state problems and give the cities as much leeway as possible to fix their own problems.


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