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Introducing the West Virginia Law Review Online

As the only law review in our state, the West Virginia Law Review takes seriously its obligation to serve both academia and our state’s legal community. We serve those interests by publishing articles that are nationally relevant along with articles that address issues in West Virginia. Historically, this Law Review has published special issues such as the National Coal Issue and the Energy and Sustainability Issue, reflecting the unquestioned importance of those areas of law to our state. However, we recognize that our state’s legal community is well-served by academic analysis of all areas of law. We also recognize that research specific to West Virginia can be difficult to find through major commercial avenues. As such, Volume 117 of the West Virginia Law Review is proud to launch the West Virginia Law Review Online.

The Gist of the Action Doctrine: Lessons from Pennsylvania's Search for Cause of Action Essences

Consider the following scenario. A homeowner hires a pest-control contractor to spray a gallon of pesticide around the outside of the homeowner’s house. The homeowner signs a contract provided by the contractor which requires the contractor to apply the pesticide in a manner consistent with the pesticide’s labelling. However, instead of spraying one gallon of pesticide around the outside the house, the contractor inexplicably (and contrary to the labelling) sprays 500 gallons of highly toxic pesticide inside the house, causing a fire that destroys the house. The homeowner sues the contractor for the negligence of his work only to lose at summary judgment because the court held that “the gist of the action” was really a breach of the contract that the homeowner signed, not a negligence claim (despite the homeowner’s protests to the contrary). Perhaps the homeowner can recover some measure of the money he paid for the contracting services due to the contractor’s breach of his promise to apply pesticide in a proper manner, but he can recover nothing for his destroyed house.

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A Policymaking Checklist for the Legislative Process

How public policy is made has long been of interest to those who study politics and law. Public policy takes the form of legislation, executive orders, local ordinances, court decisions, administrative rulemaking, and other actions taken by public institutions. Given our constitutional framework and representative democracy, much of our interest in policymaking focuses on the legislative process, whether in Congress or in statehouses across the nation. Among the subjects to be considered in relationship to legislative processes and politics is the manner in which legislation is developed. There is a substantial interest in studying the process by which policy evolves from an idea to finished form. In this regard, a priority is to understand the nature of the policymaking process and the features of its landscape. A very popular approach has been to map the stages of policy development through issue definition or agenda setting, to proposal development, and subsequent phases of policy adoption, implementation, and evaluation.1 This heuristic has influenced both theoretical analyses and practical guides to policymaking. The foci of attention and the intended audiences of these works vary, but when considered collectively, distilled into common principles, and adapted to the realities of legislative policymaking, they can be very helpful in developing a “checklist” to aid in developing legislation.  This article provides a checklist of twelve diagnostic questions that combines an appreciation for the underlying institutional, political, and practical matters that shape the development of legislation. Further, the checklist encourages those developing policy to be searching in considering analogs, comparative experiences, and in forecasting policy implementation needs to aide in creating and proposing legislation.

The purpose of this Article is to provide those advocating or considering proposed policy action with a set of twelve diagnostic questions. The list draws on the policy process model described above as well as various descriptions and guides to how policy should be made, analyzed, and evaluated.2 This checklist can be a useful aid in making sound policy decisions and in evaluating proposals that are put forth by others.  The Checklist comprises of the following questions:

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Introduction to Bill Drafting in West Virginia

Lawyers play important roles in the legislative process in the United States.  Lawyers are often elected members and officers of their respective bodies, but they also serve as counsel, advisors, clerks, and staff for members. Further, lawyers also represent government agencies, private companies, nonprofit entities, trade associations, and other participants in the legislative process working as lobbyists, legal advisors, and staff. 1 While not all bill drafting is done by lawyers, almost all bills eventually are reviewed, edited, amended or otherwise passed upon in some fashion by lawyers in a variety of positions.

This Article suggests an approach to bill drafting in West Virginia. For more experienced drafters, the Article may serve simply as a checklist when drafting. For others, the Article may offer a step-by-step process or analytical framework for approaching the bill drafting process.

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About Volume 120

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