Dillon's Rule Versus Home Rule: A Comprehensive, Comparative Review of the Impacts

Latham, Joseph R. (2016) Dillon's Rule Versus Home Rule: A Comprehensive, Comparative Review of the Impacts. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Joseph "Jody" Holland from Public Policy Leadership, The University of Mississippi.

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There are two primary configurations of the American state-local relationship. The status quo configuration, pure Dillon’s Rule, is a top-down organizational structure in which the state, primarily through its legislature, exercises close-to-complete oversight over decision-making at the local level – in municipalities, counties, towns, etc. An alternative configuration may be brought about by the institution of home rule, a constitutionally or legislatively conferred devolution of powers to substate governments that allows, at least nominally, for greater autonomy at the local level. This study utilizes institutional theory and a systematic review of the current body of literature concerning the tangible impacts of differences in state-local power dynamics to comparatively assess pure Dillon’s Rule systems and home rule systems of state-local interaction. Through the utilization of OneSearch, an aggregate search engine, 518 independent search results relevant to the substantive impacts of these systems were gathered from the contemporary body of literature. After subjecting these 518 search results to screening based on predetermined selection criteria and an even more in-depth critical appraisal process, 60 sources were ultimately chosen to constitute the study’s literature sample. Eight themes were extracted from this literature sample, four of which point to differences between the systems in terms of their on-the- ground impacts. Home rule does appear to make governing institutions better equipped to respond to local voices and local problems: home rule localities’ budgets are more sensitive to emergent community needs, autonomy at the local level corresponds to more dramatic shifts in budgetary allocations based on electorally expressed wants, and local governments’ legal capacities under home rule do allow for a wider range of innovation on social policymaking at the local level. However, efficiency gains through home rule are suspect at best; home rule tends to engender more bureaucratic sprawl in service delivery, not less, and any local economic gains are more or less contingent on that locality being part of a metropolitan area. Thus, this systematic review’s results alter the conversation fundamentally, asserting that the question of home rule is not properly understood as one of efficiency, but as one of effectiveness in local representation.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Uncontrolled Keywords: "home+rule" "Dillon+Rule" "Dillon's+Rule" "local+government+autonomy" "local+government" "government" "municipal" "autonomy" "politics"
Creators: Latham, Joseph R.
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Public Policy Leadership
Thesis Advisor: Joseph "Jody" Holland
Thesis Advisor's Department: Public Policy Leadership
Institution: The University of Mississippi
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Depositing User: Mr. Joseph Latham
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2016 20:05
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2016 20:05
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/718

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