Home Rule Study Commission
On May 16, 2023, Lancaster City voters decided to form a Home Rule Study Commission to determine if a home rule charter would better serve the City of Lancaster. On January 27. 2024, by a vote of 7-1, the Home Rule Study Commission voted to move forward with drafting a home rule charter for the City of Lancaster.
What is the purpose of the Home Rule Study Commission?
To examine our current form of government, potential changes, then make recommendations.
“Commissioners are charged with the task of “comprehensively reviewing, studying and analyzing the very governmental structure for their own community. But it is not just a study, because the commission’s recommendations are promptly placed before the voters for a decision.” (Home Rule in Pennsylvania)
The election of members to the study commission happened concurrently with the ballot question. Members of the study commission must only be registered voters within the city. Candidates were nominated by filing nomination papers signed by two hundred registered voters in Lancaster City.
What is Home Rule?
Developing a home rule charter transfers authority to act from state law to a local charter.
Pennsylvania adopted Home Rule Law in 1972. The PA Department of Community and Economic Development summarizes Home Rule in this way:
“The basic concept of Home Rule is relatively simple. The basic authority to act in municipal affairs is transferred from state law, as set forth by the General Assembly, to a local charter, adopted and amended by voters. But Home Rule does not set a municipality adrift from the rest of the state. It is subject to restrictions found in the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions and in state laws applicable to Home Rule municipalities. Local autonomy under Home Rule is a limited independence, but the thrust has been changed. Local governments without Home Rule can only act where specifically authorized by state law; Home Rule municipalities can act anywhere except where they are specifically limited by state law.” (Home Rule in Pennsylvania)
How does the City adopt a Home Rule Charter?
The adoption of a Home Rule Charter is by the electorate on General Election day. The voters are given a single proposal and either accept or reject the charter as a whole. The earliest a Home Rule Charter could be on the ballot for the voters to decide would be November 5, 2024.
How to Participate
From the Administration
The Sorace Administration is recommending Home Rule as a solution to help build a stronger, more equitable Lancaster. By adopting Home Rule, Lancaster could have more tools to control expenses and provide for other ways to raise revenues besides property taxes. Learn More