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Kessler ‘Confident’ On Home Rule Bill

April 12, 2013
By JOSELYN KING Political Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler said he is "confident" a measure to extend the state's Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program will be passed before the Legislature adjourns at midnight Saturday.

The House on Thursday passed Senate Bill 435, the home rule extension bill, by a vote of 95-3. The measure goes back to the Senate, but now contains a provision banning city gun ordinances.

The House previously passed a separate bill to repeal gun control ordinances in Charleston and Martinsburg, but Kessler, D-Marshall, pulled the bill from consideration in the Senate after members began receiving phone threats from pro-gun rights advocates wanting to have the measure passed.

Kessler said late Thursday the Senate has yet to receive SB 435 back from the House, though he expects it to arrive early today.

"I haven't seen it yet," Kessler said of the amended bill. "We only know about the reports we've heard. I'll be in a better position to comment after I've seen the bill. But I am extremely confident and optimistic a home rule bill will be passed."

SB 435 extends the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program through July 1, 2019.

Wheeling is one of four municipalities participating in the pilot program, along with Charleston, Bridgeport and Huntington.

Under home rule, Wheeling reduced the number of businesses licenses required in the city from 77 to three. City leaders established a vacant structures registration program, and began issuing conditional use zoning permits.

The legislature on Thursday passed three bills introduced by Kessler:

Also approved by the House was SB 557, introduced by Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, which would continue the Preventive Care Pilot Program. The measure is awaiting concurrence from the Senate before completing legislative action.

The following bills introduced by local lawmakers are set for action today in the West Virginia Legislature, which concludes its regular 60-day session at midnight Saturday.

Third Reading in Senate

Third Reading in House

Second Reading in Senate

Second Reading in House

Second Reading in House

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