Occassional reflections of a moderate (hey at least I think I am)

Monday, April 11, 2005

State and Local Comity

Ann Althouse writes (http://althouse.blogspot.com/2005/04/should-state-block-city-from-having.html#comments):

These days, there is a lot of attention to federalism -- the division of power between the federal government and the states -- but we do not often think about the division of power between the state government and the cities. We don't even have a word for that relationship, do we?

I think she is correct that there is no one succinct term that captures the state-municipal relationship the way "federalism" captures the federal-state relationship. However, most states (including Wisconsin) are governed by the "Dillon Rule" which basically states that "power of municipalities [is] limited to those powers 'expressly granted, necessarily or fairly implied, or absolutely indispencible' to the local governments"
( http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~bgermano/dillon.html) . Many of the States where Dillon's Rule is in place, however, have amended their constitutions to give local governments power over local affairs subject to state laws of "statewide concern". In most jurisidictions the interpretation of "statewide concern" (or similar language) reverts back to the Dillon's Rule presumption in favor of statewide legislation. (See http://www.legis.state.wi.us/lrb/pubs/consthi/04consthiIV3.htm for application in Wisconsin.)


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