Rapid City Home Rule Timeline
Dillon’s Rule v. Home Rule
John Forrest Dillon
Thomas McIntyre Cooley
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How is a Home Rule charter adopted?
Originally, under the 1962 Home Rule Constitutional Amendment, citizens had the opportunity to vote on whether they would form a charter to change their government. Because so few Cities could overcome this hurdle, the citizens voice on the formation of the committee was removed in the 1972 Home Rule Constitutional Amendment.
Today, the local City Council votes on forming a committee to draft a Home Rule charter. After a Home Rule charter is drafted by the committee, it is brought back to the City Council to be voted on to place it on the ballot for approval by the citizens.
2. How common is Home Rule among South Dakota cities?
Home rule is extremely rare in South Dakota cities, accounting for 3.5% of all incorporated municipal cities statewide.
Currently, there are only 11 cities that have adopted Home Rule, including: Aberdeen, Beresford, Brookings, Elk Point, Faith, Fort Pierre, Pierre, Sioux Falls, Springfield, Watertown and Vermillion.
3. Have others Cities or Counties rejected home rule?
Yes. In fact, Rapid City was the first city in South Dakota to place Home Rule on the ballot on April 13, 1965, and it was defeated by a vote of 65.8% against it.
Others include the City of Yankton in April 1, 1975 and Pennington County in 1976.
4. How many other Cities have a City Manager with Home Rule?
City Managers are fairly rare for cities that have adopted Home Rule charters, accounting for only 36% of all Home Rule cities, including: Aberdeen, Brookings, Springfield and Vermillion.
Due to concerns over the power that City Managers can exercise, 45% of Home Rule cities have retained their Mayor, including: Beresford, Faith, Fort Pierre, Sioux Falls & Watertown. With the other cities opting for a City Administrator, which has limited authority, including: Elk Point and Pierre.
5. Why is Home Rule considered dangerous?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, but with Home Rule, there’s less oversight, less accountability and more opportunity to cause real harm to its citizens.
6. Why is Home Rule being brought up now?
Mayor Allender originally introduced the idea of a Home Rule charter in 2019, and the City’s Home Rule website states that a “Home Rule government would allow the City to respond faster in times of crisis,” like the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to impose things like mask mandates, lockdowns, or other emergency measures.
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