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States Overriding Municipal Powers

States stripping municipal governments of power is something we bear witness to regularly. Home Rule—written into the Constitutions or established by statute in 43 states—is eviscerated as state legislatures pass laws that remove Home Rule powers. “Home Rule” and “local control” become empty words, still contained in the state Constitutions and laws but made impotent by state legislatures.

Regionalism is another attack on the rights of communities and municipalities to make local governing decisions.  There are efforts across the country to consolidate local governments and services in the name of efficiency and cost savings, at the expense of local decision-making by community members and local government officials.

Below are articles and links that are of interest both in terms of explaining regionalism and providing examples of legislation introduced (specific to PA) to begin this consolidation.

Restructuring Local Government
Cornell University
The modern metropolitan area typically contains multiple political jurisdictions. Public choice theorists argue political fragmentation will enhance choice and efficiency in local government service provision. However, the political fragmentation of the metropolitan area makes it difficult to address economic development, service provision or democratic voice at the regional level. Consolidationists argue that regional government is the solution. However, support for regionalism is weak. Alternatives such as inter-municipal cooperation or functional consolidation (specific to a service) have been much more popular. These solutions also raise problems of equity and democratic representation and the ability to address the need for broader multi-functional coordination.
REGIONALISM — DEATH OF THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT
by PhreedomphanThe PPJ Gazette
October 25th, 2010
Regionalism is the consolidation of local and state governments into large regional units and the centralization of power in bureaucratic authorities, boards, and commissions whose primary function will be to administer plans and programs dictated by Washington. We’ve found traces of Regionalism as far back as the 1920′s, in fact, the 1922 book mentioned above dealt with the federal incursions into state and local affairs and the Constitutional perversions used to justify it. Earlier still, though we don’t know if it had any connection with the present federal drive for empire, the consolidation of Philadelphia in 1854 is a good example of one of the main goals of modern regionalism — the reduction of the number of local governments and elected officials.
Could municipalities be a thing of the past?
by BEN WOLFGANGHazelton Standard-Speaker
August 4th, 2010
Imagine a day when municipal boundaries no longer exist. With no borough councils, township supervisors or local police forces, all government services would be run from the top down, with each county in Pennsylvania controlled by an elected panel making decisions for everyone.
Little support in General Assembly for municipal elimination
by Amanda Leigh BrozanaHazelton Standard-Speaker
August 4th, 2010
Legislation that would abolish municipal boundaries, creating a centralized, county-wide government, have little support in the General Assembly. They also appear to have little backing among local officials and have been formally condemned by at least three Schuylkill County municipalities.
Let the counties handle services
by Editorial BoardHazelton Standard-Speaker
August 2nd, 2010
Given that the bill steps on the toes of literally tens of thousands of local public officials, it has zero chance of becoming law any time soon. Until Pennsylvania's culture of badly fragmented local government changes along the lines suggested by Caltagirone's bill, local taxpayers will continue to throw away tens of millions of dollars a year for the sake of political turf protection.