Home rule in the United States
In the United States, home rule refers to the authority of a constituent part of a U.S. state to exercise powers of governance delegated to it by its state government. In some states, known as home rule states, the state's constitution grants 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.
Forty of the fifty states apply the principle known as Dillon's Rule in some form to determine the bounds of a municipal government's legal authority. The National League of Cities identifies 31 Dillon's Rule states, 10 home rule states, 8 states that apply Dillon's Rule only to certain municipalities, and one state (Florida) that applies home rule to everything except taxation. Each state defines for itself what powers it will grant to local governments. Within the local sphere, there are four categories in which the state allows discretionary authority:
- Structural – power to choose the form of government, charter and enact charter revisions,
- Functional – power to exercise local self government in a broad or limited manner,
- Fiscal – authority to determine revenue sources, set tax rates, borrow funds and other related financial activities,
- Personnel – authority to set employment rules, remuneration rates, employment conditions and collective bargaining.
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 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||No||Home rule specifically granted in Section 166.021(1) of Florida Statutes.|
|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.|
|Michigan||Yes||Yes||Home rule applies to all cities, some villages, and two counties.|
|Nevada||No||Yes||Home rule legislation SB29 passed and gave more power to County Commissioners; the law took effect July 2015. However, local government including general improvement districts, special districts, fire districts, and school districts were not affected by this change. |
|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 governed by general law only. School districts are generally governed by general law; a district may adopt a home rule charter, but no district has chosen to do so. Counties and "special districts" (other special-purpose governmental entities besides cities and school districts) are governed solely by general law and 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 middle of 2019.|
- Diane Lang (December 1991). "Dillon's Rule… and the Rebirth of Home Rule" (PDF). New Mexico Municipal League. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
- "Local Government Authority". National League of Cities. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- Adam Coester (January 2004). "Dillon's Rule or Not?" (PDF). National Association of Counties. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-10-10. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
- "The Connecticut Constitution". Connecticut State Library. April 2011. Archived from the original on 2009-03-23. 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.
- "Local Government Autonomy and the Dillon Rule in Virginia". Retrieved 2020-05-12.