Did this article answer all your questions about Home Rule in Pennsylvania? Alternatively, you can contact Kate Lao Shaffner via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media @klaoshaffner. Do you have a topic on which we should explain? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter @PaCrossroads. Self-reliance could also make it more difficult to deal with problems affecting a larger region. Neighbouring communities are bound by their own self-government charters and do not have to work with other local governments. In the United States, Home Rule refers to the authority of a constituent part of a U.S. state to exercise governmental powers delegated to it by its state government. In some states known as autonomous states, the state constitution gives municipalities and/or counties the ability to enact laws to govern themselves as they see fit (as long as they obey state and federal constitutions). In other states, local governments have been granted limited powers by passing laws by the state legislature. In these states, a city or county must obtain authorization from the state legislature if it wishes to pass a law or ordinance that is not expressly authorized by existing state law. To what extent does your local government have a say in the decisions that guide your daily life? Pennsylvania allows municipalities and counties to determine the structure and authority of local government.
Municipalities that opt for self-government have the most control. Home Rule was not introduced in Pennsylvania until 1922 – and even then, the constitutional amendment only gave the General Assembly the power to give cities the option to adopt Home Rule. The General Assembly appointed Philadelphia Home Rule in 1949. It was not until 1968 that all counties and municipalities obtained the right to adopt a charter of autonomy. This can be a way to solve financial difficulties, as Home Rule allows a municipality to raise taxes. Altoona is currently in the process of seeking a Home Rule designation to withdraw from Bill 47. There are two main categories of local government in the state of Texas: general law cities and autonomous cities. The main difference between the two is that a city with a general law can only do what the legislature allows by law. An autonomous city, on the other hand, may enact any regulations or laws it deems necessary, unless prohibited by state law. For a city to be autonomous, the population must reach 5,000 and there must be an election that ratifies a municipal constitution. One in a series that explains the key terms and concepts used by the Pennsylvania government.
Today`s topic: Autonomy The Commission`s job is to assess the current government and make a recommendation. If autonomy is recommended, the Commission drafts a charter of internal self-government. The Charter is passed by majority vote in a referendum – and self-government is introduced. Any amendment to the Charter must be put to the vote. 44 states have provisions for autonomy charters. The states that don`t are Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and Vermont.History (and Dillon`s Rule)To understand Home Rule, it`s helpful to know that it wasn`t always an option. Historically, the framework for the relationship between local government and state government came from Dillon`s rule, which states that communities are tied to the state “as a child is bound to a parent” and limits the power of local government to the authority expressly granted by the state. Dillon`s rule was introduced in 1970 in Pennsylvania.
and adopted nationwide in 1907 in a U.S. Supreme Court decision to place the interests of a state above those of a city. Why Home Rule? What are the benefits? Simply put, self-government gives a municipality much more freedom to govern itself, which in turn can empower citizens. It also limits interference through State legislation, which is beneficial at the State level as it allows the General Assembly to focus on national issues. There are 78 autonomous municipalities (defined as a municipality that has drafted its own charter) in the state, plus others that have opted for optional plans or the optional third-class city charter. Unlike internal self-government, municipalities that opt for an optional plan can choose from six forms of government described in the Charter of Self-Government and the Optional Plans Act, while remaining subject to the Municipal Code. The Optional 3rd Class City Charter Act (1957) provides third-class cities with a choice of forms of government. The Charter can be cumbersome – any change to a Charter of Autonomy requires a ballot referendum (and many changes could mean a very long vote). On the other hand, the fact that a charter can be amended by a simple vote can lead to instability if, for example, a municipality frequently changes its by-laws.
If a municipality wishes to establish self-government, citizens must first vote on the establishment of a state study commission and elect the members of the commission on the same ballot. (There are two ways to get the commission on the ballot: the municipality can pass an ordinance or citizens can petition to add it.) RestrictionsThere are restrictions on Home Rule. An autonomous municipality is always subject to the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Pennsylvania, the laws of the states, and laws that are “uniformly applicable in all parts of the Commonwealth.” Municipalities must obey the laws addressed to self-governments. For example, even with house rules, municipalities still have to comply with state laws such as the Municipal Planning Act, the Sun Act, and the Rainwater Management Act. The constitution of the city is effectively the constitution of the city. Cities typically form a charter committee to help draft the proposed charter. The proposed charter must then be approved by City Council to be presented to eligible voters in the city for approval and ratification in an election. The Centre`s Charter of Autonomy was developed by a Charter Committee and adopted in 1984. You can download a copy from this page. Under internal self-government, a county or municipality may do anything not expressly prohibited by the State Constitution, the General Assembly or the Charter itself.
On the other hand, municipalities governed by municipal codes (land laws) may only act if this is expressly permitted by Land law. Home Rule transfers authority over municipal affairs from state laws to a local charter that is drafted, adopted, and amended by community voters. A charter of autonomy is essentially a local constitution: it establishes the structure of government and defines its authority and limits. Perhaps the most common objection is that Pa. Autonomous municipalities are not bound by tax limits set by the State. While this is an advantage for governments looking to increase revenues, it may not be attractive to citizens who don`t want their taxes to go up. We are working with municipalities on autonomy efforts because municipalities are finding that drafting a local government charter gives citizens and communities a much broader basis than the framework of a single ordinance. The adoption of a rights-based Charter of Self-Government is a clear step toward affirming the inalienable right to local self-government and realizing the long-delayed ideals of the American Revolution.
The following table shows which of the 50 U.S. states are self-governing states and which states follow the legal principle of Dillon`s Rule to determine local government.  A state in this table with “limited” autonomy may grant autonomy to certain cities and municipalities individually, but does not have a constitutional amendment guaranteeing self-government. A state that is both a self-governing state and a Dillon state applies the Dillon rule to matters or governmental entities that are not reflected in the constitutional amendment or self-government legislation. The District of Columbia has a limited form of self-government granted by the federal government; For more information, see District of Columbia Home Rule. For example, self-governing municipalities have the option of setting property and personal tax rates for residents. Municipalities have also used autonomy charters to prohibit natural gas drilling. The State College Charter goes so far as to guarantee residents the right to a sustainable energy future.
Forty of the fifty states apply a form of principle known as the Dillon Rule, which states that local governments may exercise only those powers that the state expressly grants them to determine the limits of a municipal government`s legal authority.  The National League of Cities identifies 31 Dillon 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 but taxes.  Each State defines its own powers to local authorities. In the local sphere, there are four categories in which the state allows discretion: Are you seeking to better understand Pennsylvania`s problems and proposed solutions? Sometimes jargon and complicated concepts can get in the way. That`s why we created Explainers, a series that tries to explain important facts, clarify concepts and demystify jargon. Today`s topic: Home Rule. All counties and municipalities in Pennsylvania have the right to create and pass a charter of self-government under Act 62 of 1972 (Pennsylvania Self-Government Act and Optional Plan Laws). The conclusion? The original rule provides local control. It gives the city government the ability to issue ordinances and make decisions based on local needs, rather than having to follow a uniform state code decided by state legislators. Home Rule can give a lot of power to local leaders or the loudest voices without much state oversight.
People are beginning to embrace the idea of designing autonomy charters to uphold their communities` vision for the future by listing the rights of local citizens, including their right to a certain quality of life, and codifying the legal protection of those rights at the local level.