Country Roads, Take Me to Home Rule

34 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2023 Last revised: 10 May 2023

See all articles by Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson

West Virginia University College of Law

Date Written: February 3, 2023


From gun control to bathroom bills, and paper straws to masking requirements, the division of authority between state and local governments has been a major issue in the United States in recent years. The controversies have stoked a number of proposals to endow local governments with more authority, or home rule. This article reviews some of the recent proposals to increase local government autonomy alongside the history of home rule and concludes that present proposals are unrealistic and misconstrue the scope of home rule.

Meanwhile, West Virginia and Nevada have recently instituted home rule reforms that, while lacking national attention, offer the promise of achieving many of the goals of home rule advocates while remaining true to the doctrinal roots of home rule. The West Virginia program is particularly innovative and has empowered local governments in the state. That program allows local governments to request particular authority after engaging in public participation. The local government must justify the request. Local governments in West Virginia have received numerous grants of authority and thrived under this program.

Nevada’s program is generally more traditional and has not yielded significant benefits for municipalities. However, the program is unique in that counties are granted limited home rule authority. Counties have benefited from this grant of limited authority. Scholars and policy makers should examine the programs in West Virginia and Nevada to inform future policy.

Keywords: home rule, local government, West Virginia, Nevada, Dillon's Rule, National League of Cities

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Richardson, Jesse, Country Roads, Take Me to Home Rule (February 3, 2023). Stetson Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 1, Forthcoming , WVU College of Law Research Paper No. 2023-004, Available at SSRN: or

Jesse Richardson (Contact Author)

West Virginia University College of Law ( email )

101 Law School Drive
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506-6130
United States
3042939460 (Phone)

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