Home Rule: A State and Local Law Symposium

February 27th-28th

WVU College of Law

Registration: $325

Early Bird Rate: Save $25 when you register by February 21, 2020.

Click Here to Register! 

This seminar will be valid for 12.0 WV MCLE Credit Hours. 

What is "home rule?"

Local governments are creatures of the state and must look to the state for authority through state constitutions, local charters and state legislation. As in many other states, the lines between state and local government authority can be contentious. Across the country, many local governments seek the right to govern themselves, or “home rule”. To increase “home rule,” West Virginia launched a pilot program in 2007 allowing for greater municipal self-determination within the limits of state law. This program has increased innovation in West Virginia municipalities by allowing them to respond to individual demands through tailored regulation and has served as a national model for other states looking to expand municipal powers. Municipal regulation covers topics such as energy facility siting; anti-discrimination, minimum wage, gun regulations, and consumer protection. Following West Virginia’s decision to make the Home Rule Pilot Program permanent in 2019, the West Virginia Law Review symposium intends to explore the development of “home rule” in West Virginia and the tensions that arise between the state and local governments as a result.    

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 

11:30 a.m.


12:20 p.m.

Home Rule and Lobbying

Professor Diller’s talk will examine the role of cities in vindicating their interests the “old-fashioned way”: by lobbying elected officials. Professor Diller will discuss the means by which local governments can influence the legislative process through lobbying, endorsements, and contributions and examine the implications of weak or robust lobbying by local government officials to the arguments for and against constitutional “home rule,” or judicially enforced limitations on the subjects or methods by which the legislature may preempt.   

Professor Paul Diller 
Willamette University College of Law

1:00 p.m.


1:15 p.m.

Home Rule and Gun Regulation

Assessing gun sanctuaries that conflict with state law by concentrating on gun violence in Seattle and Pittsburgh.


William Rhee, Professor of Law           
WVU College of Law  


Matthew Davis, Visiting Lecturer            
Birmingham City University School of Law

Sheila Simon, Assistant Professor of Law            
Southern Illinois University School of Law 

2:35 p.m.


2:45 p.m.

Home Rule and LGBTQ+ Legislation

Analyzing the importance and effect of local LGBTQ+ legislation.         


Mark Dorosin, Managing Attorney    
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Rosemary Humway-Warmuth, City Solicitor        
City of Wheeling, West Virginia

Andrew Schneider, Executive Director         
Fairness West Virginia 

4:05 p.m.


Friday, February 28th, 2020 

8:00 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

8:45 a.m.

Welcoming Remarks

9:00 a.m.

Home Rule and Criminal Justice Reform

Examining the potential for localities to implement criminal justice reform with a specific focus on the West Virginia public defender system.


Casey Baker, Assistant Professor of Legal Environment     
Marshall University

Ralph McKinney, Assistant Professor of Management          
Marshall University

Jeffery Usman, Assistant Professor of Law           
Belmont University College of Law  

10:20 a.m.


10:40 a.m.

Home Rule and Consumer Law     

Delving into how municipalities can best address consumer protection.


Jonathan Marshall, Director       
Center of Consumer Law and Education  



12:15 p.m.

Lunch & Learn: Home Rule and the Courts 

Inspecting the role of the courts in defining local government authority by focusing on the rules of judicial construction employed in home rule cases,including Dillon’s Rule, the power of state preemption, and the need to accept the structural conflict between the democratically elected local officials and the power of states to override them.

Frayda S. Bluestein, David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government  
University of North Carolina School of Government

Lunch will be provided.

1:10 p.m.

Home Rule and West Virginia

Looking back at the West Virginia Home Rule Pilot program from its inception in 2007 to its statewide enactment in 2019.


Jesse Richardson, Professor of Law and Lead Land Use Attorney         
WVU College of Law  


Robert Bastress, John W. Fisher Professor of Law          
WVU College of Law

Paul Ellis, Former City Attorney          
Charleston, West Virginia

Ryan Simonton, City Attorney          
Charleston, West Virginia

2:50 p.m.

Home Rule and the Environment 

Exploring how municipalities address environmental policy gaps including farmland solar policy and pipeline routing.


Genevieve Byrne Staff Attorney  
Farm & Energy Initiative Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School

Sarah Fox, Assistant Professor of Law       
Northern Illinois University College of Law

Heidi Robertson, Steven W. Percy Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of Environmental Studies       
Cleveland State University College of Law 

4:15 p.m.

Home Rule and Drone Ordinances 

As the federal government persistently hesitates in the face of new and enhanced technology- based surveillance, state and local governments are beginning to fill in the gaps on behalf of individual privacy rights. Professor Brobst demonstrates this growing trend with the example of an emerging number of creative “home rule” and Dillon’s Rule jurisdictions are protecting privacy interests at the local level by adopting drone use laws and ordinances. 

Jennifer Brobst, Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Law       
Southern Illinois University School of Law

4:55 p.m.

Closing Remarks & Adjourn

Materials: An electronic PDF written materials will be sent via email prior to the conference. Attendees may purchase a printed copy of the written materials book for $25.

Tuition Refund Policy: No tuition refunds will be made. Preregistered attorneys who do not attend will receive a digital file of the program.

Reasonable Accommodation: If you have a disability that requires special accommodation, please contact the WVCLE office at (304) 293-7255 at least 10 days prior to the program date.