Article VII, Illinois Constitution

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Illinois Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVSchedule
Article VII of the Illinois Constitution is entitled Local Government. This article contains a major innovation in Illinois government:

home rule for many municipalities and at least one county. Home rule was designed to negate “Dillon’s Rule,” which said that since municipalities and other units of local government are creatures of the state, they have no powers except those given by state law. That rule, which was followed by courts in Illinois and the U.S. generally, required statutory authorization for every kind of local regulation and taxation. This was believed to hamper Illinois’ larger cities and Cook County in dealing with their problems. The 1970 constitutional convention decided to reverse Dillon’s Rule as to these units of local government—allowing them to regulate, tax, and otherwise deal with matters of local concern unless specifically prohibited by statute.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Municipalities and Units of Local Government

"Municipalities" means cities, villages and incorporated towns. "Units of local government" means counties, municipalities, townships, special districts, and units, designated as units of local government by law, which exercise limited governmental powers or powers in respect to limited governmental subjects, but does not include school districts.

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

County Territory, Boundaries and Seats

(a) The General Assembly shall provide by law for the formation, consolidation, merger, division, and dissolution of counties, and for the transfer of territory between counties.

(b) County boundaries shall not be changed unless approved by referendum in each county affected.

(c) County seats shall not be changed unless approved by three-fifths of those voting on the question in a county-wide referendum.

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

County Boards

(a) A county board shall be elected in each county. The number of members of the county board shall be fixed by ordinance in each county within limitations provided by law.

(b) The General Assembly by law shall provide methods available to all counties for the election of county board members. No county, other than Cook County, may change its method of electing board members except as approved by county-wide referendum.

(c) Members of the Cook County Board shall be elected from two districts, Chicago and that part of Cook County outside Chicago, unless (1) a different method of election is approved by a majority of votes cast in each of the two districts in a county-wide referendum or (2) the Cook County Board by ordinance divides the county into single member districts from which members of the County Board resident in each district are elected. If a different method of election is adopted pursuant to option (1) the method of election may thereafter be altered only pursuant to option (2) or by county-wide referendum. A different method of election may be adopted pursuant to option (2) only once and the method of election may thereafter be altered only by county-wide referendum.

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

County Officers

(a) Any county may elect a chief executive officer as provided by law. He shall have those duties and powers provided by law and those provided by county ordinance.

(b) The President of the Cook County Board shall be elected from the County at large and shall be the chief executive officer of the County. If authorized by county ordinance, a person seeking election as President of the Cook County Board may also seek election as a member of the Board.

(c) Each county shall elect a sheriff, county clerk and treasurer and may elect or appoint a coroner, recorder, assessor, auditor and such other officers as provided by law or by county ordinance. Except as changed pursuant to this Section, elected county officers shall be elected for terms of four years at general elections as provided by law. Any office may be created or eliminated and the terms of office and manner of selection changed by county-wide referendum. Offices other than sheriff, county clerk and treasurer may be eliminated and the terms of office and manner of selection changed by law. Offices other than sheriff, county clerk, treasurer, coroner, recorder, assessor and auditor may be eliminated and the terms of office and manner of selection changed by county ordinance.

(d) County officers shall have those duties, powers and functions provided by law and those provided by county ordinance. County officers shall have the duties, powers or functions derived from common law or historical precedent unless altered by law or county ordinance.

(e) The county treasurer or the person designated to perform his functions may act as treasurer of any unit of local government and any school district in his county when requested by any such unit or school district and shall so act when required to do so by law.

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Townships

The General Assembly shall provide by law for the formation of townships in any county when approved by county-wide referendum. Townships may be consolidated or merged, and one or more townships may be dissolved or divided, when approved by referendum in each township affected. All townships in a county may be dissolved when approved by a referendum in the total area in which township officers are elected.

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Powers of Home Rule Units

(a) A County which has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county and any municipality which has a population of more than 25,000 are home rule units. Other municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule units. Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.

(b) A home rule unit by referendum may elect not to be a home rule unit.

(c) If a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall prevail within its jurisdiction.

(d) A home rule unit does not have the power (1) to incur debt payable from ad valorem property tax receipts maturing more than 40 years from the time it is incurred or (2) to define and provide for the punishment of a felony.

(e) A home rule unit shall have only the power that the General Assembly may provide by law

(1) to punish by imprisonment for more than six months or

(2) to license for revenue or impose taxes upon or measured by income or earnings or upon occupations.

(f) A home rule unit shall have the power subject to approval by referendum to adopt, alter or repeal a form of government provided by law, except that the form of government of Cook County shall be subject to the provisions of Section 3 of this Article. A home rule municipality shall have the power to provide for its officers, their manner of selection and terms of office only as approved by referendum or as otherwise authorized by law. A home rule county shall have the power to provide for its officers, their manner of selection and terms of office in the manner set forth in Section 4 of this Article.

(g) The General Assembly by a law approved by the vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house may deny or limit the power to tax and any other power or function of a home rule unit not exercised or performed by the State other than a power or function specified in subsection (l) of this section.

(h) The General Assembly may provide specifically by law for the exclusive exercise by the State of any power or function of a home rule unit other than a taxing power or a power or function specified in subsection (l) of this Section.

(i) Home rule units may exercise and perform concurrently with the State any power or function of a home rule unit to the extent that the General Assembly by law does not specifically limit the concurrent exercise or specifically declare the State's exercise to be exclusive.

(j) The General Assembly may limit by law the amount of debt which home rule counties may incur and may limit by law approved by three-fifths of the members elected to each house the amount of debt, other than debt payable from ad valorem property tax receipts, which home rule municipalities may incur.

(k) The General Assembly may limit by law the amount and require referendum approval of debt to be incurred by home rule municipalities, payable from ad valorem property tax receipts, only in excess of the following percentages of the assessed value of its taxable property:

(1) if its population is 500,000 or more, an aggregate of three percent;

(2) if its population is more than 25,000 and less than 500,000, an aggregate of one percent; and

(3) if its population is 25,000 or less, an aggregate of one-half percent. Indebtedness which is outstanding on the effective date of this Constitution or which is thereafter approved by referendum or assumed from another unit of local government shall not be included in the foregoing percentage amount

(l) The General Assembly may not deny or limit the power of home rule units (1) to make local improvements by special assessment and to exercise this power jointly with other counties and municipalities, and other classes of units of local government having that power on the effective date of this Constitution unless that power is subsequently denied by law to any such other units of local government or (2) to levy or impose additional taxes upon areas within their boundaries in the manner provided by law for the provision of special services to those areas and for the payment of debt incurred in order to provide those special services.

(m) Powers and functions of home rule units shall be construed liberally.

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

Counties and Municipalities Other Than Home Rule Units

Counties and municipalities which are not home rule units shall have only powers granted to them by law and the powers

(1) to make local improvements by special assessment and to exercise this power jointly with other counties and municipalities, and other classes of units of local government having that power on the effective date of this Constitution unless that power is subsequently denied by law to any such other units of local government;

(2) by referendum, to adopt, alter or repeal their forms of government provided by law;

(3) in the case of municipalities, to provide by referendum for their officers, manner of selection and terms of office;

(4) in the case of counties, to provide for their officers, manner of selection and terms of office as provided in Section 4 of this Article;

(5) to incur debt except as limited by law and except that debt payable from ad valorem property tax receipts shall mature within 40 years from the time it is incurred; and

(6) to levy or impose additional taxes upon areas within their boundaries in the manner provided by law for the provision of special services to those areas and for the payment of debt incurred in order to provide those special services.

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Powers and Officers of School Districts and Units of Local Government Other Than Counties and Municipalities

Townships, school districts, special districts and units, designated by law as units of local government, which exercise limited governmental powers or powers in respect to limited governmental subjects shall have only powers granted by law. No law shall grant the power

(1) to any of the foregoing units to incur debt payable from ad valorem property tax receipts maturing more than 40 years from the time it is incurred, or

(2) to make improvements by special assessments to any of the foregoing classes of units which do not have that power on the effective date of this Constitution. The General Assembly shall provide by law for the selection of officers of the foregoing units, but the officers shall not be appointed by any person in the Judicial Branch.

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

Salaries and Fees

(a) Compensation of officers and employees and the office expenses of units of local government shall not be paid from fees collected. Fees may be collected as provided by law and by ordinance and shall be deposited upon receipt with the treasurer of the unit. Fees shall not be based upon funds disbursed or collected, nor upon the levy or extension of taxes.

(b) An increase or decrease in the salary of an elected officer of any unit of local government shall not take effect during the term for which that officer is elected.

Section 10

Text of Section 10:

Intergovernmental Cooperation

(a) Units of local government and school districts may contract or otherwise associate among themselves, with the State, with other states and their units of local government and school districts, and with the United States to obtain or share services and to exercise, combine, or transfer any power or function, in any manner not prohibited by law or by ordinance. Units of local government and school districts may contract and otherwise associate with individuals, associations, and corporations in any manner not prohibited by law or by ordinance. Participating units of government may use their credit, revenues, and other resources to pay costs and to service debt related to intergovernmental activities.

(b) Officers and employees of units of local government and school districts may participate in intergovernmental activities authorized by their units of government without relinquishing their offices or positions.

(c) The State shall encourage intergovernmental cooperation and use its technical and financial resources to assist intergovernmental activities.

Section 11

Text of Section 11:

Initiative and Referendum

(a) Proposals for actions which are authorized by this Article or by law and which require approval by referendum may be initiated and submitted to the electors by resolution of the governing board of a unit of local government or by petition of electors in the manner provided by law.

(b) Referenda required by this Article shall be held at general elections, except as otherwise provided by law. Questions submitted to referendum shall be adopted if approved by a majority of those voting on the question unless a different requirement is specified in this Article.

Section 12

Text of Section 12:

Implementation of Governmental Changes

The General Assembly shall provide by law for the transfer of assets, powers and functions, and for the payment of outstanding debt in connection with the formation, consolidation, merger, division, dissolution and change in the boundaries of units of local government.

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