CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislation to extend and expand the state's municipal home rule pilot project (SB435) remained in limbo Monday, over a pending firearms amendment that would likely kill the bill. But House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, said he is optimistic a solution can be reached by Friday.
"I know this is a major issue for a lot of folks around the state, especially those municipalities that want to get included with home rule projects," Boggs said Monday.
The bill -- which would extend home rule for Charleston and three other participating cities, and allow other cities in the state to apply for greater powers of local governance -- seemed to be on track for easy passage, having passed the Senate 34-0 on March 7, and having advanced from the House Government Organization Committee on April 3.
The bill was on amendment stage on the House floor Friday, when it was moved to the inactive calendar by the Rules Committee, prior to taking up the controversial amendment by Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha.
That amendment would insert the contents of a bill to nullify firearms ordinances in Charleston and three other cities (HB2805) into the home rule bill. The gun bill passed the House 94-4 on March 11, but was declared dead by Senate leadership after some senators received threatening calls and emails from proponents demanding passage of the bill.
"This amendment just gives us the opportunity to express to the Senate how important it is to us," Lane said Monday of the amendment.
Lisa Dooley, executive director of the West Virginia Municipal League, said Monday she is disappointed Lane's amendment is muddying the home rule bill.
"I would hope the two bills would be evaluated on their own merits," she said.
Reportedly, House Democrats meeting in closed-door caucus Monday concluded they do not have the votes to defeat Lane's amendment if it comes up for a floor vote. Dooley said it is unlikely the Senate would accept the bill with the gun measure amended into it.
She said one option could be to seek a determination on whether the amendment is germane to the original.