Home Rule Law & Legal Definition


Home rule is the power of a local city or county to set up its own system of self-government without receiving a charter from the state. Home rule is allowed undersome state constitutions. The authority to act in local affairs is transferred from state law to a local charter, adopted and, as need be amended, by the voters through referendum. Home rule shifts much of the responsibility for local government from the state legislature to the local community. A county that adopts a home rule charter has the ability to amend its governmental organization and powers to suit its needs. A home rule charter is, in essence, a local constitution.

A home rule county is still subject to restrictions found in the United States Constitution, state constitutions, and in state laws applicable to all counties. While not restricted to only things specifically authorized by state law, home rule counties can do anything not specifically forbidden by state or federal law.