West Virginia

West Virginia

City officials and activists can’t seem to agree on the rules governing a move to recall the elected officials who voted for a $2.50-a-week user fee in Parkersburg. The city claims the deadline to submit petitons passed last week while supporters of the recall effort don’t believe the law contains a deadline:

City Attorney Joe Santer insisted Parkersburg’s charter stipulates that groups seeking to exercise the recall option have 30 days after declaring their intent to do so to gather the necessary signatures. He said the 30-day recall window expired Feb. 14.

Wanting a better grasp on public opinion, Parkersburg City Council tabled a vote on the proposed user fee, opting instead to put the matter to vote next year during a special election. Council members voted 5-4 at Tuesday night’s council meeting to put the matter to the city’s citizens, despite City Attorney Joe Santer stating the result would be only “advisory.”

Read the story from News and Sentinel

New polling shows that West Virginia citizens wish for a ballot initiative and referendum process in the state. Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, released the results of an opinion poll conducted in the West Virginia on voter support for initiative and referendum rights. With 66 percent of voters supporting, 13 percent opposing, and 21 percent unsure, a majority of West Virginians want statewide initiative and referendum rights.

The West Virginia Watchdog has a writeup today on the results of a poll conducted in the state on voter support for initiative & referendum. The poll was commissioned by Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation.

Voters in every state support initiative & referendum by a greater than 2 to 1 margin and West Virginia is no different.

Of the 45 states whose legislatures hold sessions in 2010, 27 of them have adjourned for the year, and 5 more will wrap up before the end of the month. Of the more than 80 bills dealing with the initiative and referendum process in various states, 51 of them would have reduced citizens’ initiative rights. Thanks to the work of activists in our coalitions, only 3 bills reducing citizen’s rights have passed and become law.

Steven Allen Adams of the West Virginia Watchdog - a project of the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia - and I talked yesterday about bringing ballot initiative and referendum rights to West Virginia (my home state). The first segment in a three-part on putting the voters in charge of the Mountain State is excerpted below:

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department voted to ban smoking in bars and video gambling establishments 4-0 at the Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 meeting, but opponents to the smoking ban have begun to express their constitutional rights —- they plan to do so in May at the election booth. And, the word is spreading. Amongst several unhappy smoking ban players, the word does not signal an immediate court challenge. The West Virginia Supreme Court essentially decided the question, leaving only a narrow legislative window that exempts bingo halls with 100 or more card players.

A U.S. District court judge has ruled that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources can’t prevent citizens from circulating petitions in state parks. While West Virginian does not give its people access to the ballot initiative and referendum process, candidates for office have to collect signatures on nominating petitions.

You have no statewide Initiative & Referendum rights.


See the results of a poll on support for statewide initiative & referendum here.

Grade: F

Click here to view West Virginia’s individual report in Of the People, By the People, For the People: A 2010 Report Card on Statewide Voter Initiative Rights.


Mon, Feb 16 by Anonymous

A 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 corporatebacked
Republican Party’s domination of West Virginia politics, which
lasted from 1896 to 1932. Still, the state’s I&R advocates were not without


Mon, Feb 16 by Anonymous

State Balloting Process

Mon, Feb 16 by Anonymous

Article XIV
CON 14-1. Amendments.
No convention shall be called, having the authority to alter the
constitution of the state, unless it be in pursuance of law, passed by the
affirmative vote of a majority of the members elected to each house of
the Legislature and providing that polls shall be opened throughout the
state, on the same day therein specified, which shall not be less than
three months after the passage of such law, for the purpose of taking the
sense of the voters on the question of calling a convention. And such

Ballot Qualifications & Schedule

Mon, Feb 16 by Anonymous

Not satisfied with the city’s response to its petition drive, citizen group Glosta Tea Party filed a lawsuit against Gloucester officials on Friday, Feb. 6 asking for a suspension of the tax incentive plan brokered between the city and developers of Gloucester Crossing.

A hearing set for Tuesday, Feb. 10, in Salem’s Essex Superior Court was delayed until March 18 after the city requested more time to prepare its case.

Jamie O’Hara, a lead organizer of Glosta Tea Party, said his group was caught off guard by the city’s move.

After four years of workshops, public hearings and re-writes, the new Jefferson County zoning ordinance went into effect November 2. The document will completely transform the way planning and zoning takes place in the county. The old “LESA” system of splitting up large farms far from towns is out—as are parent-to-child transfers and the traditional minor subdivisions, which allowed landowners to carve out two lots every five years with little planning oversight.