Home Rule Committee Meeting
Rapid City, S.D. — For the last year, the Rapid City city council has been considering the possibility of home rule.
This would give the city freedom to govern itself, as long legislation does not contradict state law. To get the ball rolling, the council appointed a committee of 18 to research home rule, and develop a charter to present to city council. A portion of the group met at city hall to discuss the work accomplished since the first meeting in May.
South Dakota is by default a Dylan’s rule state, which denies cities like Rapid City the autonomy they desire. Mayor Steve Allender said of the default rule,
“If the city wants to respond to a situation or an environmental change of some type within the community. First we have to go to state law, and we have to find a state law that expressly gives us permission to solve that problem, and we have to look to the states prescribed solution.”
Mayor Allender has been a proponent of home rule for many years. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on city council meetings with the public, recently public engagement has waned. He is hoping that will change though, as he stressed, the final decision rests with the public
“Home rule can only be adopted by public vote. So no government back room meetings will occur, where we’re going to impose this on anyone. This will be out in the open. The people will get to choose.”
The committee has created a site with their findings, and definitions of home rule to help the public better understand the proposal. There is also an area for residents to voice their opinions and ask questions, a feature the committee is hoping will bring awareness to issues they may have overlooked.
“There are no changes being recommended at this point, said Helen Usera, a home rule committee member. “The committee hasn’t established any changes. All we are doing is finding out information about what are different components of a home rule charter, and would those work within our community.”
City council does have a ways to go before approving home rule. A charter has to be drafted and approved before it will be put to public vote.