Home Rule: Self-Governing at the Local Level (in Florida)
“Home rule” is like the municipal version of federalism. It refers to a city or county’s ability to exercise governmental power without the state legislature first granting it some kind of approval. Typically, we say that home rule cities and counties have the ability to exercise their powers for any “municipal purpose.”
Basically, without home rule, cities and counties would have to ask state governments for permission every time they wanted to legislate. With home rule, they can do this on their own but the state can still overrule local governments (much like the federal government can overrule states).
In Florida, a local government generally must have a charter to obtain home rule powers. Local governments with charters have the ability to alter their organizational structure and powers to fit whatever the community needs.
Florida has 20 counties with home rule charters. These “charter counties” can do as they wish so long as it does not conflict with state law.
In 1968, Florida’s non-charter counties were also given home rule powers by the Legislature but these counties may only do what state statute allows them to do.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources: