What is your opinion about the concept of home rule? Do you believe that municipalities should preserve their own destiny in all cases? Explain whether or not you believe that home rule creates hurdles and/or disincentives for various municipal government entities to work together to address mutual fiscal challenges. Support your position by providing several examples.
Two pages APA, 12 times new roman, double spaced
Home rule is;
THE BIRTH OF HOME RULE In response to these conditions, and other abuses of local and special laws, many state constitutions were amended to limit the use of these local and special laws. In some states they were completely prohibited; in others they were allowed for certain enumerated purposes or when the subject matter would not be capable of treatment in a general law. States then began authorizing incorporation of municipalities under general laws instead of individual charters. As early as 1884, the Territory of New Mexico allowed municipalities to incorporate via procedures established by general law. The New Mexico Constitution, adopted January 21, 1911, strictly limited the Legislature’s authority to enact local and special laws [Article IV, Section 24]. The intent of such constitutional limitations on special and local legislation was, in part, to eliminate the use of such laws to unduly interfere in municipalities’ local affairs and to ameliorate some of the worst abuses. However, since these states did not at the same time amend their constitutions to grant more local powers to the municipalities, a void was created. The state legislature’s power was limited but a corresponding amount of power was not delegated to municipalities in order to enable them to respond properly to local problems. There was no affirmative strong role granted to local government in reaction to the limitation on state legislative power. It became evident to municipal reformers that a new relationship between state and local government was necessary which would allow local matters to be handled at the municipal level without the need for constant state special or local legislation. The reformers created a new concept of local control, which incorporated part of the inherent right to local self-government rule, yet retained a part of the sovereignty of the states. That new principle became known as home rule. WHAT IS HOME RULE? In very general terms, home rule can be defined as the transfer of power from the state to units of local government for the purpose of implementing local self-government. In most states, it also provides those local governments with some measure of freedom from state interference as well as some ability to exercise powers and perform functions without a prior express delegation of authority from the state. Home rule has taken various forms around the country in the over 40 states that have adopted it. The New Mexico home rule provision (N.M. Constitution, Article X, Section 6) was passed by the electorate in 1970 and follows what is known as the devolution of powers model. Under this model the state constitution authorizes the citizens of a municipality to adopt a home rule charter. Upon adoption of such a charter, the constitution automatically grants or devolves upon such a municipality all powers which the legislature could grant or devolve. To counterbalance this broad constitutional grant of powers, the state constitution also empowers the legislature to enact statutes that limit or prohibit the exercise of powers by local governments. Whereas under Dillon’s Rule it is assumed that a city does not have a particular power unless granted by the legislature, broadly speaking, the opposite is true with home rule. Under home rule, it is assumed that a municipality has a power unless it is expressly denied by state statute or constitution. BENEFITS OF HOME RULE Although home rule may not be the choice for all municipalities, it can be advantageous for many reasons. Advocates cite the ability to act more quickly and effectively to solve local problems, rather than waiting for state enabling legislation. Home rule can be a tool municipalities can use to respond to complex local problems with creative solutions. Home rule empowers local officials to solve local problems, leaving state legislators free to address issues of primarily statewide concern. It allows communities the freedom to choose the best form of government to best suit their needs. New Mexico has six municipalities which have elected to become home rule and two more are presently considering it. The remaining 93 still operate under Dillon’s Rule. (This should read: New Mexico has 10 municipalities that have elected to become home rule cities and two chartered cities. The remaining 90 operate under Dillon’s Rule.) Even though New Mexico is a “home rule” state, Mr. Dillon’s principles are alive and well here. For instance, New Mexico courts have chosen, thus far, to rule against home rule powers in specific areas such as zoning. It is ironic that here and elsewhere around the country, the judiciary has been more reluctant than the state legislature to provide any real teeth to home rule, especially since it was the legislature who created it at the expense of their own power. Needless to say, times have changed drastically since Judge Dillon issued his opinions. Professional management of municipalities has replaced the corrupt political machines of the 1800s. Many federal laws, state statutes and court cases effectively guard against the worst abuses of the system by regulating open meetings, finance, personnel administration, etc. Amazingly, the past two New Mexico legislative sessions have seen the introduction of bills which would have not only severely restricted or completely abolished home rule powers, but also would have even restricted statutory municipal powers to an extent greater than Dillon’s Rule by limiting municipal powers to only those explicitly expressed in Chapter 3, NMSA 1978.
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