Home rule in the United States
In the United States, the legislative authority granted to local governments varies by state. In some states, known as Home Rule States, an amendment to the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit (so long as they obey the state and federal constitutions). In other states, only limited authority has been granted to local governments by passage of statutes in the state legislature. In these states, a city or county must obtain permission from the state legislature if it wishes to pass a law or ordinance which is not specifically permitted under existing state legislation. Most non-home rule states apply the principle known as Dillon's Rule to determine the bounds of a municipal government's legal authority.
Home Rule and Dillon's Rule states
The following chart indicates which of the 50 U.S. states are home rule states and which states obey the legal principle of Dillon's Rule for determining local government authority. A state in this chart with "Limited" home rule may grant home rule to particular cities and municipalities individually but has no constitutional amendment guaranteeing home rule. A state which is both a home rule state and a Dillon's Rule state applies Dillon's Rule to matters or governmental units not accounted for in the constitutional amendment or statutes which grant home rule. The source for the table is at this reference.
The District of Columbia has a limited form of home rule granted by the Federal Government; see District of Columbia home rule for details.
|State||Home Rule State?||Dillon's Rule State?||Comments|
|Alabama||No||Yes||Dillon's Rule applies only to counties.|
|California||Yes||Yes||Dillon's Rule does not apply to charter cities.|
|Florida||Yes||Unclear||Conflicting statutes address Dillon's Rule.|
|Georgia||Yes||Yes||Home rule specifically granted in Article IX of Georgia Constitution|
|Illinois||Yes||Yes||Dillon's Rule applies to municipalities not individually granted home rule.|
|Indiana||Limited||Yes||Dillon's Rule applies only to townships.|
|Kansas||Limited||Yes||Dillon's Rule does not apply to cities or counties.|
|Louisiana||Yes||Yes||Dillon's Rule only applies to charter municipalities established before 1974.|
|Tennessee||Yes||Yes||Dillon's Rule applies only to non-home rule municipalities.|
|Texas||Limited||Yes||Cities may adopt home rule once their population exceeds 5,000 and the voters adopt a city charter (the provisions of which cannot be inconsistent with either the Texas Constitution or general law); if the population subsequently falls below 5,000 the charter remains in force and may be amended. Otherwise, cities with populations of 5,000 or less are chartered by general law only. School districts may adopt home rule for school districts, but none have chosen to do so. Counties and "special districts" (other special-purpose governmental entities besides cities and school districts) are prohibited from adopting home rule.|
|West Virginia||No*||No||Dillon's Rule was effectively abolished in the 1969 Municipal Code, §7, Article 1. *The state has conducted a home rule pilot program which is due to stop by the end of 2012.|
- Diane Lang (December 1991). "Dillon's Rule… and the Rebirth of Home Rule". New Mexico Municipal League. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
- Adam Coester (January 2004). "Dillon's Rule or Not?". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
- "The Connecticut Constitution". Connecticut State Library. April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
- http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/htm/CN.11.htm#11.5 Texas Constitution, Article XI, Section 5.
- http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/htm/CN.11.htm#11.4 Texas Constitution, Article XI, Section 4.
- http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.12.htm#B Texas Education Code, Chapter 12, Subchapter B.