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In the systems of local government in some U.S. states, a general-law municipality, general-law city, or statutory city is a municipality whose government structure and powers are defined by the general law of its state. This is contrast to a charter city or home-rule city, whose government structure and powers are defined by a municipal charter.
States may allow only general-law municipalities, only charter municipalities, or both. In states having both, general-law municipalities generally have less autonomy than charter municipalities do. Five states do not allow municipal charters, meaning that every municipality is a general-law municipality. Other states may allow or require charters for all municipalities or may allow charters only for municipalities meeting certain criteria, requiring other municipalities to be general-law municipalities.
In California, a general-law city has only those powers expressly granted or necessarily incident to those expressly granted. Any fair, reasonable doubt is resolved against the exercise of such powers. A general-law city may have only a form of government authorized by state general law.
In Minnesota, cities are either statutory cities or home rule charter cities. Statutory cities may select from three forms of organization, although one form is available only to statutory cities having populations above 1,000.
In Texas, only cities of more than 5,000 inhabitants may become, upon voter approval of a city charter, home-rule cities; the rest must be general-law cities. General-law cities have only those powers that state law expressly or implicitly authorizes. By contrast, home-rule cities may assume any power not prohibited by the state constitution or state laws. General-law municipalities are classified by population as type A, B, or C, with different options for their forms of government.
- Local Government in Texas
- Types of Cities in Minnesota
- General law local government, from Ballotpedia
- States that allow charter municipalities
- General Law City Law and Legal Definition
- General Law City v. Charter City
- Municipal Report: Organization of City and Village Government in Michigan, from the Michigan Municipal League
- Michigan Legislature: Act 3 of 1895
- In the event a home-rule city's population falls below 5,000 it may retain home rule status.