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19 U. Dayton L. Rev. 533 (1993-1994)
Home Rule in Ohio Counties: Legal and Constitutional Perspectives

handle is hein.journals/udlr19 and id is 541 raw text is: HOME RULE IN OHIO COUNTIES: LEGAL AND
CONSTITUTIONAL PERSPECTIVES
Stephen Cianca*
I. INTRODUCTION
Article X of the Ohio Constitution grants counties in the state the
right to adopt home rule.' By ratifying a home rule charter, a county
can effectively become self-governing. Although state constitutions
have been notoriously vague about what constitutes home rule, courts
have generally interpreted home rule to allow municipal or county laws
to prevail over state laws in matters of purely local concern.' Absent
home rule, an Ohio county is simply an administrative arm of the state,
possessing limited legislative authority.3
Proponents of home rule for cities have advanced several favorable
arguments, which apply equally well to counties. First, home rule pre-
vents undue interference in local affairs by a state legislature.' Second,
* Attorney in private practice and President of the Winton Place Development Corp., Cin-
cinnati, Ohio. B.A. 1976, University of Rochester; M.A. 1978, Georgetown University; M.A.
1983, Athenaeum of Ohio; J.D. 1993, University of Cincinnati.
1. OHIO CONST. art. X, §§ 1-4. Article X was amended in 1933 to allow counties to adopt
home rule. Earl L. Shoup, Constitutional Problems of County Home Rule in Ohio, I CASE W.
RES. L. REV. 11l, 111, 116 (1949). The amended article X completely replaced the former ver-
sion, which addressed the matters of county and township government. Id. Section 3 of article X
was amended in 1957, liberalizing the requirements for passage of a home rule charter by the
voters. See discussion infra note 19.
2. OSBORNE M. REYNOLDS, JR.. HANDBOOK OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW 96 (1982); see
also DANIEL R. MANDELKER ET AL., STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM 110-
I1 (3d ed. 1990). Home rule was originally referred to as imperio in imperium, a state within a
state, a constitutional grant of power to local governments of a defined scope. MANDELKER,
supra, at 110. Most state constitutions grant this form of home rule, with Missouri's being the
first to do so in 1875. Id. Under a more recent form of home rule, the state constitution grants
local governments all powers the legislature is capable of delegating, reserving to the state legis-
lature the authority to withdraw or limit home rule by statute. Id. at 11l. The rationale for this
type of home rule is to reduce the role of the courts and their often restrictive interpretations of
home rule provisions and to expand the powers of home rule jurisdictions. Id. Ohio's constitution
grants the imperio form of home rule. See id. at 113. For an in-depth treatment of home rule in
the context of Ohio municipalities, see GEORGE D. VAUBEL. MUNICIPAL HOME RULE IN OHIO II-
30, 363-76 (1978).
3. CHARTER RESEARCH INST., HAMILTON COUNTY ALMANAC 5 (1981) [hereinafter ALMA-
NAC]. A county officer cannot perform any service or function unless specifically authorized by the
General Assembly. See COUNTY COMM'Rs ASS'N OF OHIO. COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HANDBOOK
1-1-1 (2d ed. 1980) [hereinafter HANDBOOK]. Counties spend a considerable amount of time ob-
taining the necessary authorization from the General Assembly to perform even perfunctory tasks.
Id. Additionally, where the Ohio Revised Code is silent on a subject, counties do not have the
authority to act. Id.
4. REYNOLDS. supra note 2, at 97.

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