CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Senate President Jeff Kessler said Wednesday that the state's home rule law "is a mess."
Kessler, D-Marshall, made the statement during the morning session of Issues and Eggs -- an annual legislative breakfast held by the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't think we ever intended to introduce a home rule bill to handcuff cities to a decision between whether they can grant economic opportunity and foster tax relief or remove dilapidated buildings as a condition whether or not you can carry a gun," Kessler said.
"I would not have a problem repealing that section of the code entirely that we put in there with the home rule bill. I don't think it belongs there."
Kessler's statement was sparked by a question regarding Charleston's impending decision between participating in home rule or getting rid of its gun laws.
During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers passed a home rule renewal bill that revoked participating cities' rights to regulate the sale and carrying of firearms within city limits.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said recently the city hasn't yet made a decision about its participation in home rule. It has until June 1 to decide.
Kessler added that while uniform gun laws are necessary, they are a separate issue from home rule.
Other issues of concern for business leaders focused on upcoming Medicaid costs, business and investment, and substance abuse.
West Virginia faces a budget shortage of more than $80 million. Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, told attendees that coal severance revenue has started to pick up, but current Medicaid costs will be a problem for the next two years.
Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, spoke on the expansion of Medicaid in West Virginia and the need for mid-level primary care physicians.
It's projected that there will be 93,000 to 100,000 people eligible for Medicaid once it is expanded this year. The Legislature has been told in the past that there aren't enough primary care providers for its current Medicaid population.