An Important Aspect Of Home Rule

Feb 5, 2018

Rockford voters face an impending referendum on home rule on March 20. The‎ city had home rule, but then repudiated it in a previous referendum in 1983. Constitution

Article VII, section 6, of the Illinois Constitution permits home rule jurisdictions to exercise "any power not prohibited by the state constitution." Non-home rule jurisdictions exercise sharply limited powers and require permission from Springfield to do other things.

Four major sources of authority are granted exclusively to‎ home rule units. First, they can levy certain kinds of taxes without a referendum. Second is the authority to issue debt -- sell bonds -- and then levy taxes to repay. Third is a limited authority to hire without some of the constraints of the civil service system. Finally, there is the authority to pass ordinances creating certain kinds of regulation. Examples are housing and inspection codes.

These are very significant powers to grant to local government. Rockfordians soon will be confronted with powerful and passionate arguments pro and con. What should we do?

One study concludes, "With the right elected officials in office, Home Rule could be a good thing. But citizens have to be able to trust their elected officials."

One cannot state the issue more succinctly or accurately. How much do we trust the officials to whom we would entrust ‎these powers?

I'm Bob Evans, and that is my perspective.