What is Home Rule?

There are 1,300 municipal corporations (cities, towns, and villages) in the State of Illinois.  Eighty-three percent of those entities are organized and existing in accordance with an arcane concept dating back to the 1800s known as “Dillon’s Rule.”   These 1,080 municipalities derive their powers and rights wholly from the State of Illinois General Assembly.   Simply, these non-home rule units of local government may only exercise powers for which express authority is granted by state law.  From circuit courts to the Illinois Supreme Court, a number of rulings have held there are NO inherent rights or powers at the local level of government except those explicitly given by the state.  The City of Columbia is currently a non-home rule unit of local government.

The 1970 Illinois Constitution established a second “status” of municipal government:  Home Rule.  For the 220 home rule communities in Illinois, Article VII, Section 6(a) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides:

"except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.”

These home-rule communities are able to exercise any power and perform any function unless expressly prohibited by state law.

Show All Answers

1. What is Home Rule?
2. Why Home Rule?
3. How Can Columbia Become a Home Rule Municipality?
4. How Will Home Rule Help Columbia?
5. What Other Municipalities are Home Rule?
6. How Have Other Municipalities Used Home Rule?
7. What Are Disadvantages to Achieving Home Rule Status?
8. How Do Residents Oversee Use of Home Rule?