Home Rule 101

In 1970, the Illinois General Assembly updated its constitution and included home rule authority for municipalities over 25,000 in population. They knew Illinois is made up of many different types of communities, from small rural towns to large urban cities and everything in between. Different-sized cities have different issues. They need the ability to govern themselves more effectively.

  • Home Rule shifts decision making from the dysfunctional State legislature in Springfield to the local level, allowing residents to develop local solutions to local problems.
  • These can include initiatives and ordinances in a wide range of areas such as building, public safety, zoning, sanitation, economic development, public health, civil disturbances, quality of life, safety and welfare.
  • A non-home rule municipality can only do what the Springfield Legislature allows it to do.
  • A home rule municipality has the freedom to use almost any tool available to solve its issues, unless expressly prohibited by Springfield.

With home rule, nothing happens automatically. In Rockford's case, the Mayor and City Council still must develop and vote on ordinances, budget proposals and new legislation. The Council recently approved a stringent set of self-limiting ordinances to help govern itself with home rule. These would:

  • Cap our property taxes at what non-home rule communities are allowed by state law.
  • Require a public notice, a public hearing, and an automatic layover allowing citizens time to understand what is proposed and why in the case of any tax proposals.
  • Cap the City's debt limit at a level 20 percent less than required by state law.
  • Provide voters the ability to recall aldermen or the mayor.

A YES vote on March 20 will give that tool to leaders we know and trust.