Home Rule and the League's Position
Home rule means the exercise of independent authority by elected local governments. South Carolina local governments have very limited home rule--all of them in taxing powers, cities in taxing annexation, counties in powers of appointment and land use, school districts in almost everything. The home rule provisions of the Constitution enacted in 1974 gave count councils limited powers, but the legislative delegations continue to exercise considerable power in county affairs. The League supports more delegation of authority to county councils, less restrictive annexation laws for municipalities, more citizen input into structural issues (size of school board, district consolidation) for school districts, and fewer restrictions on taxing authority for all local governments. We oppose the use of local legislation on school district issues.
- Home Rule in South Carolina, a background paper prepared by LWVSC
- Local Government and Home Rule in South Carolina: A Citizen's Guide
Home rule is the right to self-govern. In the 1970s, South Carolina amended the 1895 state Constitution to delineate the powers of local governments. Even with the enactment of the Home Rule Act of 1975, debates about the scope of home rule continue. This 2011 publication updates the 2004 version because a number of state actions have changed local governments' home rule authority.
- Power Point on Local Government in SC
LWVSC supports effective and empowered local government, as established in the S. C. Constitution, Chapter 8, Section 17, which states that “the provisions of this Constitution and all laws concerning local government shall be liberally construed in their favor. Powers, duties, and responsibilities granted local government subdivisions by this Constitution and by law shall include those fairly implied and not prohibited by this Constitution.” These powers, duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to:
1. Providing for additional options for the structure, methods of election and/or appointment and financing of local government bodies, including councils and commissions, in Accordance with Article VIII of the S.C. Constitution (Home Rule).
2. Creating annexation regulations for municipalities that:
a. Permit city-initiated annexation. A referendum of resident voters in the area to be annexed shall take place only if there is a petition against the annexation.
b. Permit unilateral city-initiated annexation in the case of enclaves.
c. Provide for annexation by petition of the property owners in the area proposed to be annexed or by a combination wherein residents who are registered voters are given equal standing as petitioners with property owners.
d. Establish procedures and criteria for annexation.
e. Address the disposition of the property of public service and special purpose districts in annexed areas.
3. Permitting consolidation as an alternative to annexation.
4. Placing no constitutional limit on local debt authorization other than that the debt be incurred in pursuit of law.
5. Requiring that changes in the structures of the school board and/or consolidating, splitting, or redrawing school district lines should be subject to a referendum by the voters in the affected school district(s).
6. Empowering local governments to regulate issues that are primarily local.
Background/Action:The 1999 convention authorized the board to combine positions that were formerly under Apportionment, Constitutional Revision, Election Laws & Procedures, Local Government, Restructuring of State Government and SC Legislative Structure and Procedures into a single umbrella position, which was approved at the 2000 LWVSC Council meeting. A review was conducted beginning in 2003 on the support position on initiative and referendum as a method of revising the Constitution. This was deleted as a support position at the 2005 convention. A review of the Structure of State Government section of the STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT was approved at Convention 2009. Item #4 under EFFECTIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT is a result of consensus based on a state LWV study of school district structure and governance and was adopted at convention in 2011. Item #1 was amended to add “and/or appointment” and “including councils and commissions” at Convention 2019. At Council 2020, the introductory statement was amended from “LWVSC supports home rule, or granting local governments the powers they need to effectively serve the needs of their citizens. Important aspects of home rule for counties, cities, and school districts include: “ to read “LWVSC supports effective and empowered local government, as established in the S. C. Constitution, Chapter 8, Section 17, which states that “the provisions of this Constitution and all laws concerning local government shall be liberally construed in their favor. Powers, duties, and responsibilities granted local government subdivisions by this Constitution and by law shall include those fairly implied and not prohibited by this Constitution.” These powers, duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to:” Also at Council 2020, Item #6 was added.