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History of direct democracy in West Virginia

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West Virginia
LawsHistory
List of measures

Early Failure

A West Virginia state senator (Campbell) introduced an initiative and referendum bill in 1907, and a state delegate (Williams) introduced one in 1908. Both were defeated. In 1915, Governor Hatfield called for I&R in his annual message to the legislature, but his words went unheeded. The biggest obstacle to I&R in the Progressive era was probably the corporate-backed Republican Party's domination of West Virginia politics, which lasted from 1896 to 1932.

Beginning of West Virginia I&R

During the midst of the Republican Party's domination of West Virginia politics I&R made a small but significant breakthrough. The state's I&R advocates saw their first success after a 1917 chart in the I&R movement organ Equity indicated that the legislature had passed "special acts" granting I&R rights to residents of some (unidentified) local jurisdictions. This was the bleak beginning I&R in West Virginia as today the state still does not have statewide I&R.

This state history is based on David Schmidt's book, Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution and was found at the I&R Institute West Virginia.