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Home Rule in the States

"Home Rule" is a term loosely used, with various meanings from state to state. Actual local self-government on community issues is all but non-existent, and the specific degree of local self-determination can only be understood for any given state or municipal type by closely examining constitutional provisions, state statutes, and codes. Often, seemingly "permissive" constitutional provisions are all but nullified by state statute and administrative codes that relegate decision-making on community issues to regulatory boards and agencies controlled by state legislatures and "special districts" that are responsive to interested industries, but not community constituents.


STATES THAT PROVIDE FOR MUNICIPAL HOME RULE IN THE STATE CONSTITUTION

TYPE 1 = REQUIRES ENABLING LEGISLATION; TYPE 2 = SELF-EXECUTING

STATE

DATE

TYPE

Application

ALASKA

1959

1

First class cities and boroughs

ARIZONA

1912

2

Cities of 3,500 or more

CALIFORNIA

1879

2

Cities (and San Francisco city-county)

COLORADO

1902

2

Any municipality

CONNECTICUT

1965

1

Any city, town, or borough

HAWAII

1959

2

All political subdivisions

ILLINOIS

1971

2

All cities over 25,000; municipalities optional

IOWA

1968

1

Any municipality

KANSAS

1960

2

All cities

LOUISIANA

1974

2

Any municipality

MAINE

1970

2

Any municipality

MARYLAND

1954

1

Cities and towns

MASSACHUSETTS

1966

1

Cities and towns

MICHIGAN

1908

1

Each city and village

MINNESOTA

1898

1

Any city and village

MISSOURI

1875

2

Any city over 5,000

MONTANA

1972

2

Municipalities; voter review of 5 options (1977)

NEBRASKA

1912

2

Any city over 5,000

NEVADA

1924

1

Any city or town

NEW MEXICO

1970

2

Municipalities

NEW YORK

1923

1

Cities, towns and villages

NORTH DAKOTA

1966

2

All cities

OHIO

1912

2

Any municipality

OKLAHOMA

1908

2

Any city of 2,000 or more; charter subject to Governor's OK

OREGON

1906

2

Every city and town

PENNSYLVANIA

1969

1

Optional forms for all local governments

RHODE ISLAND

1951

2

Every city and town

SOUTH CAROLINA

1975

1

Municipalities, three forms of government

SOUTH DAKOTA

1962

2

Any municipality

TENNESSEE

1953

2

Any municipality

TEXAS

1912

1

Cities over 5,000

UTAH

1932

2

Any incorporated city or town

WASHINGTON

1889

2

Any city over 10,000

WEST VIRGINIA

1936

1

Municipalities over 2,000  Nominal, but ineffective

WISCONSIN

1924

1

Cities and villages

WYOMING

1973

2

Municipalities

STATES THAT PROVIDE FOR MUNICIPAL HOME RULE

THROUGH LEGISLATIVE STATUTE

ARKANSAS

1972


Any municipality

DELAWARE

1953 


Any municipality

FLORIDA

1968


Any municipality

GEORGIA

1947


Any municipality

KENTUCKY

1980


Cities Only

NEW HAMPSHIRE

1966


Cities and towns

NEW JERSEY

1950


Optional charter system for municipalities

NORTH CAROLINA

1917


Any municipality

STATES THAT DO NOT PROVIDE FOR MUNICIPAL HOME RULE

ALABAMA




IDAHO




INDIANA




MISSISSIPPI




VIRGINIA




VERMONT




On CANADIAN Municipal Home Rule


*The template used for the chart on this "Does My State Have Home Rule?" page came from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns' August 2002 Candidate Bulletin. The original chart has been modified, and as new information is gathered, it will be updated.


“Our efforts to bring about reforms in municipal government have thus far largely failed to accomplish what was expected of them because we have persistently refused to recognize the principle of majority rule. We have clung tenaciously to the system of checks and balances with all its restraints on popular control. The evils of municipal government are not the evils of democracy, but the evils of a system which limits the power of the majority in the interest of the minority.” -- J. Allen Smith, 1907, The Spirit of American Government, p. 290

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Updates and suggestions of more comprehensive information for any state are invited.

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