Laws governing local ballot measures in West Virginia

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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West Virginia Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
Some West Virginia cities have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in West Virginia. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Local government in West Virginia consists of:

  • 55 county governments.
  • 232 city governments.
  • In addition, there are 316 special districts and 55 independent school districts.[1]

City classifications:

Cities in West Virginia may be classified as:

  • Charter city: of which there are 108
  • General law city: of which there are 124

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in West Virginia

School bond and tax elections in West Virginia are held under three circumstances:

  • To exceed levy limits depending on the class of property.
  • To issue bonds for capital improvements
  • To issue new taxes on bonding

Local recall rules

The recall of local elected government officials in West Virginia is governed by WV Code §8-12-4. This statute applies to "any city" with a "charter provision."

In West Virginia, the right of recall extends to any elected officer of a city that has a city charter that provides for recall. The right of recall in West Virginia does not extend to city officials in non-charter cities or charter cities that do not specifically authorize recall. The right of recall also does not extend to county officials, officials of special districts, members of school boards, members of the West Virginia State Legislature, representatives from West Virginia to the U.S. Congress or to statewide constitutional officers such as the Governor of West Virginia.

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in West Virginia

Initiative process availability

The only local units of government in West Virginia that make the initiative process available are charter cities, all 108 of which have a mandated process for charter amendment. Charter cities may also authorize initiative for ordinances.[2]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Article VI, Section 39 of the West Virginia Constitution gives cities the power to create and amend their own charters.

Statutes

West Virginia Code §8-4-7 mandates initiative and referendum for charter amendments.

The governing body of a city shall provide by ordinance for a special municipal election to pass upon a proposed charter amendment or amendments if (1) such governing body by the affirmative vote of two thirds of its members shall determine and specify that a special municipal election is necessary; or (2) a petition bearing the signatures, written in their own handwriting, of fifteen percent of the qualified voters of the city, if a Class I or Class II city, or ten percent of the qualified voters of the city, if a Class III city, expressly requesting that a special municipal election be called for the purpose has been filed with the governing body more than one hundred twenty days prior to the date of the next regular municipal election. In all other cases, a proposed charter amendment or amendments shall be submitted by ordinance at the next regular municipal election.[3]

West Virginia Code §8-12-4 grants cities the authority to provide by charter provision for initiative and referendum for city ordinances.

Any city may by charter provision provide for any or all of the following:(1) The initiation of ordinances by petition bearing the signatures, written in their own handwriting, of not less than ten percent of the qualified voters of such city;(2) The submission to the qualified voters of such city of a proposed ordinance at a regular municipal election or special municipal election upon petition bearing the signatures, written in their own handwriting, of not less than ten percent of the qualified voters of such city or upon resolution of the governing body of such city.[3]

Initiative process features

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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West Virginia has a state mandated charter amendment process through initiative petitions detailed in West Virginia Code §8-4-7.[4]


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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in West Virginia
City[5] Population City Type Next election
Charleston 51,177 Charter N/A
Huntington 49,253 Charter N/A
Parkersburg 31,557 Charter N/A
Morgantown 30,293 Charter N/A
Wheeling 28,355 Charter N/A
Weirton 19,651 Charter N/A
Fairmont 18,764 Charter N/A
Beckley 17,675 Charter N/A
Martinsburg 17,487 Charter N/A
Clarksburg 16,649 Charter N/A

The top 10 most populated cities in West Virginia are all governed under a charter. Initiative is available for charter amendments as provided above. In addition, 5 of the cities below have authorized initiative for ordinances. Provisions below come from the specific city charter. Click on the links to view the full initiative requirements.



External links

References