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Home Rule

Reference Number: MTAS-333
Reviewed Date: 12/30/2020

In Tennessee, home rule means that a city may adopt and change its own charter by local referendum. If a city adopts home rule, the legislature may not pass private acts that apply to that city. General laws that apply to all cities also are applicable to cities with home rule charters.

If a city chooses home rule, it relinquishes the opportunity to have the legislature pass private acts for it. Instead, residents must approve by local referendum any changes to the home rule charter. In addition, T.C.A. § 6-53-105(c) requires that the municipal chief financial officer estimate the cost and revenue impact of home rule amendments and that such estimates appear on ballots containing amendments to home rule charters.

In 2016, fourteen Tennessee cities and towns have hom rule charters: Chattanooga, Clinton, East Ridge, Etowah, Johnson City, Knoxville, Lenoir City, Memphis, Mt. Juliet, Oak Ridge, Red Bank, Sevierville, Sweetwater and Whitwell.