Municipal Corporation

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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An incorporated political subdivision of a state that is composed of the citizens of a designated geographic area and which performs certain state functions on a local level and possesses such powers as are conferred upon it by the state.

A municipal corporation is a city, town, village, or borough that has governmental powers. A municipality is a city, town, village, or, in some states, a borough. A corporation is an entity capable of conducting business. Cities, towns, villages, and some boroughs are called municipal corporations because they have the power to conduct business with the private sector.

Generally, the authority to govern the affairs within a state rests with the state legislature, the governor, and the state judicial system. However, states give localities limited powers to govern their own areas. The origin of the municipal corporation varies from state to state. Municipal corporations are given the power to govern through either the state constitution or state statutes, or through the legislative grant of a charter.

States give municipalities the power to create an official governmental body, such as a board or council. Members of this body are elected by voters who live within the voting boundaries of the municipality. The local body has the power to pass ordinances, or local laws. These laws may not conflict with state or federal laws.

Most states grant so-called home rule powers to municipalities in the state constitution and state statutes. Home rule is a flexible grant of power from the state to the voters of a municipality. The first grant of home rule was given to the city of St. Louis in 1875 when the state of Missouri created a new state constitution that gave the city the power to create its own government.

Home rule gives municipalities the power to determine their own goals without interference from the state legislature or state agencies. It gives municipalities room to experiment with new approaches to government without first

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seeking approval from the state. It also allows municipalities to act more quickly on issues of local concern because they do not have to seek approval for their actions from the state legislature. Although home rule powers are broad, in no event may a municipality enact a law that is specifically precluded by state law or that is contrary to state law. For example, a municipality may not vote to decriminalize narcotics...

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