Municipal Home Rule: Grassroots
Democracy or A Symbolic Gesture
(from Maine Townsman, January 1983)
By Michael L. Starn, Editor
What a municipal government can or can not do, depends entirely on how much authority the State Legislature chooses to give it, for cities and towns, as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John F. Dillon once said, are merely "creatures of the State."
Until 1970, the legal authority of municipalities in Maine was limited to those powers expressly or impliedly (sic) granted under state statutes. In 1969 an amendment to the State Constitution was approved by Maine voters and in 1970 the Maine Legislature passed the Home Rule Enabling Act, and since that time Maine's cities and towns can not only exercise those powers expressly granted or necessarily implied but also "any power or function, which the Legislature has power to confer upon it, which is not expressly denied or denied by clear implication."
The intent and purpose of municipal home rule is to broaden the powers of local governments. Whether home rule in Maine has achieved this objective, or has turned out to be little more than a symbolic gesture of the Legislature and the electorate to "grass roots" democracy is open for debate.
Implementing the programs of the Reagan Administration's "New Federalism," with their emphasis on state and local governments assuming greater responsibilities and a diminishment of the federal role, and the resultant need to clarify and distinguish the powers of state and local governments in dealing with these new responsibilities, requires a reexamination of the local home rule statute in Maine, and in other states, and the court decisions which effect the implementation of those statutes. In the very near future the issue of local control may rise again as central to our federal system of governmentfor instance, in the siting of hazardous waste disposal facilities. Herewith, a look at home rule at dawn of 1983.
In order to trace the history of municipal home rule in Maine, one first needs to understand the concept of home rule.
Basically, there are two types of municipal home rule: legislative and constitutional. Legislative, or statutory, home rule, which began in Iowa in 1858, means that a state legislature passes an act authorizing qualified local governments to govern themselves in certain areas and under certain conditions. Constitutional home rule is generally gained by public referendum and is contained in a state's constitution. The constitutional amendment may require legislative implementation or may be self-executing, i.e., require no supplemental legislative action.
Two national associations, both concerned with the improvement of municipal government and public administration, have issued model constitutional provisions covering home rule authorizations. One proposes an Imperium in Imperio approach, the other a Devolution of Powers approach.
The National Municipal League model provides for general and enumerated home rule powers. Proposed first in 1921, this model creates an Imperium in Imperio, or state within a state, i.e., on matters of local concern, an autonomous power (home rule municipality) within an autonomous power (the state).
The NML model reads:
"Any. . . city may adopt or amend a charter for its own government, subject to such regulations as are provided in this constitution and may be provided by general law. . . each city is hereby granted full power and authority to pass laws and ordinances relating to its local affairs, property and government; and no enumeration of powers in this constitution shall be deemed to limit or restrict the general grant of authority hereby conferred; but this grant of authority shall not be deemed to limit or restrict power of the legislature to enact laws of statewide concern uniformly applicable to every city."
Taking a more conceptual approach, the American Municipal League in its "Model Constitutional Provisions for Municipal Home Rule" in 1953 proposed that:
"A municipal corporation which adopts a home rule charter may exercise any power or perform any function which the legislature has power to devolve upon a non-home rule charter municipal corporation and which is not denied to that municipal corporation by its home rule charter, is not denied to all home rule charter corporations by statute and is within such limitations as may be established by statute."
Criticism has been leveled at both approaches to municipal home rule. Critics have charged that the NML model overemphasizes the need for local autonomy and does not cultivate the necessary favorable legislative, judicial and community climate of opinion. For example, the needs of metropolitan areas are not restricted to the individual or cumulative needs of the various municipalities which might exist within the area. Governmental integration, not disintegration should be encouraged, say the critics of the NML plan.
Critics of the AMA model point to its naivete. They contend that "no home rule power is beyond legislative control" under the Devolution of Powers model and point to the growing interdependence of levels of government which has led courts to perceive a "state concern" in most functional areas and to limit severely the scope of local discretionary powers.
Municipal home rule in Maine is both constitutional and legislative. The constitutional provision can be found in the Constitution of the State of Maine, Art. VII, Pt.2, §1, and was adopted in public referendum in 1969. The amendment reads:
"The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or general law, which are local and municipal in character. The legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act."
Because the constitutional provision was not self-executing the Maine Legislature implemented legislative home rule in 1970 by enacting 30 M.R.S.A., §§1911, 1920. One section of the Home Rule Enabling Act grants broad ordinance powers to all of Maine's cities and towns. These powers are delegated to municipalities under 30 M.R.S.A. §1917 which reads:
"Any municipality may, by the adoption, amendment or repeal of ordinances or bylaws, exercise any power or function which the Legislature has power to confer upon it, which is not denied either expressly or by clear implication, and exercise any power or function granted to the municipality by the Constitution, general law or charter. No change in the composition, mode of election or terms of office of the legislative body, the mayor or the manager of any municipality may be accomplished by bylaw or ordinance."
Prior to the adoption of home rule in Maine an Intergovernmental Relations Study Commission was formed to analyze the various approaches that Maine could take in adopting municipal home rule.
In its report to the State Legislature, the Governor, and the general public, the Commission concluded that:
- municipal home rule would relieve the state of a cumbersome obligation of altering local charters to meet the local need;
- if the municipality failed to adhere to the law allowing home rule, abused the enacting legislation, or failed to operate under home rule in a manner consistent with its philosophy, the Courts would intervene;
- the constitutional method eliminated any possible question as to the constitutionality of a legislative assignment of powers, but still allowed the Legislature certain control on these municipal corporations by virtue of the enacting legislation which would accompany any home rule constitutional amendment;
- the enabling legislation would provide the courts with a set of rules to govern the activity of the municipalities out of which, the courts would develop laws and precedent as to what a municipal corporation may or may not do.
Looking back at the 14 years that have passed since that Commission issued its report, several questions arise. Did Maine communities live up to the expectations of the Commission? Are communities using their home rule powers to their fullest extent? Are they abusing those powers? Have the courts satisfactorily dealt with the home rule questions that have arisen since passage of the constitutional amendment and accompanying legislation?
To answer these questions, we must first look at the nature of Maine's cities and towns prior to home rule. Under municipal home rule in Maine, both cities and towns are eligible to adopt, revise or amend their local charters. In other states, home rule powers are often granted only to cities, and some states provide optional forms of government for the home rule municipalities to choose from. Prior to home rule, charter adoption and amendment was done by Private and Special Act of the Maine Legislature. Ordinance powers were limited to those specifically granted by local charter (Private and Special Act) or under the general laws of the state.
In Maine, there are approximately 450 cities and towns legally incorporated by Private and Special Acts of the State Legislature. However, according to a "Profile of Municipal Charters," published by the Bureau of Public Administration in 1978, 22 cities and 45 towns have "municipal charters," which were either adopted prior to Home Rule by Private and Special Act or since home rule through the charter adoption process as outlined by statute. (30 M.R.S.A., §§1911-1916). Interestingly, 40 of the 67 communities adopting municipal charters, did so since 1960. Only a dozen or so of these 40 charter adoptions, however, came after home rule.
Incorporated towns which lack a charter are organized under the laws of the state, as set forth in Title 30 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, and operate under the general laws of the state. Towns without municipal charters, have a town meeting form of government and benefit only from the statutory home rule authority which gives them broadened ordinance powers.
The Devolution of Powers approach to municipal home rule gives state courts a much more important role to play in determining the scope of local authority. In interpreting the formal powers granted to local governments, state courts have traditionally adhered to a rule of strict construction which became known as "Dillon's Rule."
In 1868, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John F. Dillon promulgated his now (in)famous ruling:
"A municipal corporation possesses and can exercise the following powers and no others: First, those granted in express words; second, those necessarily implied or necessarily incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those absolutely essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporationnot simply convenient, but indispensable; and fourth, any fair doubt as to the existence of a power is resolved by the courts against the corporation."
Since the advent of municipal home rule, state courts have wrestled with the question of preemption. This preemption issue surfaced with the adoption of the Devolution of Powers model home rule statutes and constitutional provisions.
Governmental power at the subnational level may be placed in three broad spheresa state controlling sphere, a local controlling sphere, and a shared state-local sphere. These spheres of control have been shifting in recent decades in response to economic, political and social changes, and thus affect the way in which state courts treat the issue of preemption.
Two separate preemption questions have surfaced under Maine's home rule constitutional amendment and legislation. First, under the constitutional provision, what does local and municipal in character include? Second, under 30 M.R.S.A. §1917, what does denied by clear implication mean?
There is no fuzziness in the part of Section 1917 which states that municipalities may not exercise powers in areas where those powers are "expressly denied" by a state law or the constitution. As one home rule observer commented, "The municipality cannot forbid what the state allows or allow that which the state forbids."
On the other hand, obviously it is not possible to say that local discretion automatically ceases when the state enacts legislation covering a matter which is of concern to local government.
Take for example the Minimum Lot Size Law in Maine (12 M.R.S.A. §4807 et seq.). Certainly, the State Legislature did not intend by enactment of that law to preclude municipalities from enacting local ordinances with greater lot size requirements than the state-imposed minimums.
Since passage of the home rule amendment to the State Constitution and the enactment of 30 M.R.S.A. §1917, the Maine Supreme Court has addressed the home rule powers of Maine municipalities in only a few cases.
The very first case of significance to Maine's Home Rule Act was Arundel v. Swain in 1977. This case is noteworthy because of the implications of a footnote to the decision rather than the actual holdings of the case.
In Footnote #3 of Town of Arundel v. Swain, the Law Court overlooked the broad grant of ordinance powers found in 30 M.R.S.A. §1917, incorrectly referring to 30 M.R.S.A. §4956 as the enabling authority for municipal subdivision control, and based its conclusions on authorities not relevant to the scheme of home rule in Maine.
Since that decision, however, as the following cases reveal, the Maine Supreme Court has demonstrated its awareness of Maine's home rule statute and constitutional amendment and has now begun to interpret the scope of local governments' authority under home rule.
In July, 1979, the Maine Supreme Court denied the appeal of the Town of Livermore in Clardy v. Town of Livermore but for different reasons than the lower court had used. The Superior Court had addressed only one of the plaintiffs' two contentions awarding summary judgment in their favor because: "the minimum frontage requirement contained in the Defendant's Building Code is invalid" as "an attempt to adopt a zoning restriction without following the statutory prerequisites for the adoption of a zoning ordinance. . . (citing Lessard, supra)."
The case of Clardy v. Town of Livermore involved a landowner who had brought action against the town to prevent the town from enforcing its ordinance prescribing minimum frontage as a prerequisite for erection of a building.
In its appeal, the town contended that Lessard was distinguishable as involving a setback regulation, and maintained that the advent in Maine of municipal home rule prior to the date of the amendment of the ordinance at issue rendered Lessard inapplicable to this case.
Thus, the town argued that in P.L. 1971, c. 455, entitled "An Act to Make Municipal Planning Legislation Consistent With Home Rule," the Legislature avoided use of enabling language thereby clarifying the zoning powers inhered in the municipality under home rule and the legislature's role was more in the nature of regulating from time to time the manner of the town's exercise of its power.
The Court agreed with the town that the issues raised were important "as portents of many, and major, transformations that have been wrought by the advent of municipal home rule in the legal framework which has governed, for so long, the interrelations between state and municipal authority."
However, the Court denied the appeal because the ordinance in question was silent on intendment and therefore could have only "prospective" applicability. The plaintiffs had acquired their land prior to the adoption of the ordinance.
In a case which dealt specifically with the question of what is "local and municipal in character," the State Supreme Court in School Committee of the Town of Winslow v. Inhabitants of the Town of Winslow on August 9, 1979 held that "as respects the school committees of towns not otherwise clearly exempted by legislative pronouncement, the matter of terms of office for school committee members is not a matter "local and municipal in character" within the meaning of home rule provision of State Constitution, and therefore, the school committee term of office is an educational matter reserved to the state, beyond municipality's power to modify."
The case was the first to come before the Court since the adoption of the municipal home rule amendment to the State Constitution to deal specifically with the issue of preemption under the Constitutional provision, and to date is the only such case.
The issue decided in the case was the legality of a local charter amendment passed by the residents of Winslow in public referendum which would have changed the term of office of Winslow School Committee members from three years to two, and the system of election from an "at large basis" to a "district basis."
In 1975, Winslow residents had adopted a charter amendment changing the election of council members from an at large basis to a district basis, creating seven single member districts, and shortening council terms to two years.
Justice Pomeroy in his written decision noted that courts of other jurisdictions (outside Maine) had held that the manner of selecting school boards, including the establishment of terms of office of school board members, is a matter beyond municipal control. "The preeminence of the State in educational matters, vis-a-vis local government is clear," he wrote.
The Court cited its decision in Lunn v. City of Augusta, supra, when it said of school committees, "(n)o department of our state government requires officials to be selected with greater care. That great care must be overseen by the State, lest its policies be frustrated."
Some interesting and important language can be found in the December, 1979 Law Court case, Begin v. Town of Sabattus, involving the legality and constitutionality of the town's mobile home park ordinance. The plaintiffs contended that by the repeal of 30 M.R.S.A. §4956(3)(H), the Legislature "by clear implication" had denied municipalities the power to pass regulations designed to control growth so that municipal services could keep pace.
30 M.R.S.A. § 4956(3)(H), which required that a municipality determine that a subdivision "will not place an unreasonable burden on the ability of the local government to provide municipal or governmental services," had been repealed by the State Legislature. The Court, however, did not find the repeal of subsection (3)(H), without more "to have the import which plaintiff attributes to it." The repeal of the provision certainly means that consideration of this criterion is no longer "mandatory," but it does not either necessarily or "clearly" imply that such consideration by a municipality is no longer allowed, the Court said.
The Court cited the general zoning powers of municipalities and home rule authority contained in 30 M.R.S.A. §1917 as: "sufficient to permit municipalities to implement some slow growth limitations."
The town's appeal of the case was denied, however, because the ordinance in question would have limited mobile home parks to four permits per year and therefore four new dwelling units per year, while a subdivision consisting of conventional buildings would have no such limitation.
In January, 1980, the case of Boothbay Harbor v. Russell was decided by the Maine Supreme Court and concerned a picnic deck that a landowner had built on shorefront property in town.
"There is nothing unconstitutional in the legislature's delegation of legislative power to establish shoreland zoning ordinances to local legislative bodies," the Court said.
The Court upheld a provision in the zoning ordinance that all fines would inure to the town as permissible under enabling legislation which implemented home rule powers granted municipalities by the Maine Constitution and under statute which specifically authorized shoreland zoning pursuant to presently existing enabling legislation. "The home rule power is at least as broad as the police power under 30 M.R.S.A. §2151(1978), which for many years has authorized municipalities to impose by ordinance fines recoverable for their own benefit," the Court stated.
The first Maine Supreme Court decision on the question of state preemption over local ordinance came in August of 1980 in the Scwanda v. Bonney case.
The Superior Court, Cumberland County, had declared invalid a local town ordinance which imposed requirements beyond the statutory criteria for issuance of licenses to carry concealed weapons. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the "state statute governing issuance of licenses to carry concealed weapons preempts municipal regulation of concealed weapons licenses."
The question at issue was whether 25 M.R.S.A. §2031 preempted municipal regulation of concealed weapons licenses. "Municipal corporations, as public bodies, may exercise only such powers as the Legislature has conferred upon them by law or which may have been granted to them directly by the Constitution," said the Court citing State v. Fin & Feather Club, Me, 316 A.2d 351,355 (1974) and Article VIII, Pt 2, §1, Constitution of Maine.
"Whether the Legislature, by enactment of 25 M.R.S.A. §2031, did preempt the field respecting regulatory requirements in the issuance of concealed weapons licenses to the exclusion of the municipalities that perform the actual task of their issuance depends upon the interpretation of the legislative enactment which in turn must be traced to legislative intent. Legislative intendment always controls," Justice Dufresne wrote.
The Court noted that a license granted by the municipality of residence entitles the licensee to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the State. "Obviously, the need for uniform application of the concealed weapons law precludes local regulation resulting in such inconsistencies" said the Court.
On the issue of whether or not home rule empowers a municipality to enact a more restrictive ordinance, Justice Dufresne said, "Legislative history supports our conclusion that municipalities have not been delegated the power to impose restrictions beyond the statutory standard of 'good moral character' in the licensing of persons to carry concealed weapons."
Another case, Bird v. Old Orchard Beach, involved the powers of municipalities under their municipal charter and was decided in February, 1981. In question was an action of the town council authorizing a bond issue which had previously been voted down by public referendum.
The Law Court held that "where no constitutional, statutory or charter provision explicitly prohibited the town council from repassing a bond issue identical to one which had been rejected by the electorate at a referendum election, the council was vested with such power."
No legislative enactment or constitutional provision denies a municipal corporation acting through its officers the power to reenact ordinances or resolves disapproved in voter referendum, the Court said. However, it did recognize that, if empowered to reenact ordinances, orders or resolves following their rejection by the voters in referendum elections, a municipal council could abuse the power by adopting a repetitive pattern of relegislation to be followed by voter referendum petitions and elections. "But the voters have it in their power to remedy such abuse. They may remove offending councilmen at the time they are up for reelection, or perhaps sooner under the recall provisions of the Town Charter. They may, pursuant to the Initiative and Referendum provisions of the charter, explicitly limit the powers of the council in reenactment of voter-rejected ordinances, orders or resolves during a stated period of time or otherwise," Justice Dufresne stated in the Court's written decision.
One final case relevant to municipal home rule authority was decided in December, 1981. In the case, James v. Town of West Bath, the Maine Supreme Court again dealt with the question of state preemption over local ordinance, as the town was attempting to regulate the digging of marine worms.
The Court held that the, ". . . town ordinance was invalid because the state had preempted the field through statute governing marine resources, including marine worms."
The town's worm digging ordinance, which prohibited all persons from digging worms in the town's tidal flats without obtaining a $25 license, was declared invalid because the state had preempted the field through a statute governing marine resources, including marine worms, despite fact that the statute does not expressly deny to municipalities the power to regulate marine worms (12 M.R.S.A. §§6001 et seq., 6751).
Marine resources, including marine worms, are also regulated in 12 M.R.S.A. Part 9, with 12 M.R.S.A. §6751 (Supp. 1980), specifically establishing a $10 license fee for individuals who engage in marine worm digging. In Section 6171, the Commissioner of Marine Resources is empowered to adopt such regulations as he deems necessary to promote the conservation and propagation of marine organisms and to protect them from depletion.
Summing up the cases mentioned, it appears evident that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is aware of municipal home rule. In some cases, the Court has acknowledged that municipalities possess "broad powers" under home rule and that "major transformations" have occurred since the advent of home rule in Maine. However, it seems equally clear that when faced with the question of whether a matter is "local and municipal in character" or of statewide concern, the Court has used a strict interpretation of the applicable statutes to lean steadfastly on the side of state preemption.
Interviews with some Maine attorneys, who are either currently practicing municipal law or did so previously, prompted the aforementioned conclusion about the Maine Supreme Court's attitude toward home rule issues.
"I'm afraid the heyday of home rule has gone by," said Geoffrey H. Hole, an attorney with Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer, and Nelson, and formerly head of the Maine Municipal Association's legal services division.
"The direction of the Law Court seems to be more toward Scwanda (Scwanda v. Bonney) and Winslow (School Committee v. Town of Winslow) side of things," said Hole.
William Livengood, an MMA attorney for the past six years, feels that the Law Court is now well aware of Maine's home rule legislation, but has been slow in employing the home rule concept because they (the judges) and the attorneys arguing before them were "steeped in the tradition of Dillon's Rule."
The next major court test involving state preemption under home rule may come in the area of hazardous waste regulation. Recent newspaper reports reveal that over a hundred Maine communities have passed ordinances which would prohibit hazardous waste disposal without local consent.
Madge Baker, staff attorney with the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, advises towns "to regulate, not prohibit" hazardous waste disposal. "My assumption has been that the state preempts in the area of hazardous waste," she said.
Ronald E. Colby, executive director of Associated Industries of Maine, and formerly an attorney with MMA, also thinks towns may have exceeded their scope of authority in their attempts to prohibit hazardous waste disposal. "The legislative intent of the hazardous waste statute will be the determining factor," he said.
Since a number of states adopted home rule prior to Maine, it might be beneficial to look at state supreme courts rulings elsewhere in the country which have dealt with the powers of municipalities under home rule authority. These ruling may also serve as portents of the direction of the Maine Supreme Court in future cases involving home rule issues.
In Environmental Services of Louisiana Inc., v. Iberville Parish Police Jury, the Louisiana State Supreme Court ruled that the state had preempted local law on disposal of hazardous waste in the city.
In ACORN v. City of New Orleans, the court acknowledged that a $100 tax service charge was permissibly shared authority allowed despite a clear state preemption of property taxation.
In Spokane v. Portch in 1979, the state supreme court determined that the city's criminal obscenity ordinance was unconstitutional because the state had "intended" to completely occupy the area of criminal obscenity.
The Arizona Supreme Court in Levitz v. State ruled that the field of municipal sign regulation was not entirely covered by the "municipal affairs" immunities doctrine because of the potential impact of advertising on other jurisdictions.
In 1979, the West Virginia Supreme Court invalidated most of the statutory grant of local discretionary authority and in effect limited cities to selecting one of four statutory forms of government and determining the dates of local elections.
In Vermont, the so-called statutory "home rule" provision is inoperative, because bond counsels advise cities and towns that the provision is unconstitutional.
Closer to Maine, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Bloom v. City of Worcester, said: "the existence of legislation on a subject, however, is not necessarily a bar to the enactment of local ordinances and by laws exercising powers or functions with respect to the same subject. If the State legislative purpose can be achieved in the face of a local ordinance or by-law on the same subject, the local ordinance or by-law is not inconsistent with the State legislation, unless the Legislature has expressly forbidden the adoption of local ordinances and by-laws on that subject."
Moreover, the Massachusetts Court likened the standard for determination of "inconsistency" to that which exists in Federal preemption cases, and cited numerous United States Supreme Court decisions which stand for the propositions that " . . the exercise of Federal supremacy is not lightly to be presumed, and that Congress must clearly manifest an intention to supersede the power of the State. "
Finally, the Court held that a local ordinance would be valid under the Massachusetts home rule concept: "In the absence of any express legislative intent to forbid local activities consistent with the purpose of the State's. . . legislation, and in the absence of any circumstances from which it appears any legislative purpose will be frustrated and from which, therefore, a legislative intent to preempt the field must be inferred. . ."
The people of Maine have historically held the inherent philosophies of local self-government very dear. More than a symbolic gesture, home rule in Maine was intended to give written expression to the strong belief of Mainers in local government.
Earlier, some questions were posed regarding how Maine communities have dealt with their home rule authority. Here are some answers.
Are Maine communities using their home rule powers to the fullest extent?
Probably not. Only a dozen or so communities have adopted municipal charters pursuant to the Home Rule Act. However, it should be noted that most of the 45-plus other communities with municipal charters have amended them under the procedures outlined by the home rule statute.
Municipalities' use of their expanded ordinance powers can perhaps best be illustrated by the adoption of Site Plan Review ordinances. The classic home rule ordinance since there is no express or implied denial of this authority under State law, Site Plan Review had been adopted in 26 Maine communities by 1978.
Are communities abusing the home rule powers?
Again, probably not. Until a greater number of cases are brought before the courts questioning a municipality's home rule authority, it is difficult to give a definitive answer to this question. The aforementioned Maine Supreme Court cases illustrate that, in some instances, municipalities have exceeded their home rule authority. As the final arbiter, the Maine Law Court will interpret the scope of municipal home rule powers. Some home rule issues have not been decided because municipalities have chosen not to act in areas where they felt that their authority was limited, and other questionable areas remain where municipalities have acted, probably beyond their scope of authority, but no one has taken the issue to court, e.g., bans on hazardous waste siting.
If home rule in Maine is to actually have its intended effect on the way in which Maine people govern themselves, some changes should be made.
On the issue of state preemption, two things need to be done. First, the state legislature should clearly indicate by statute those areas where there is a compelling state interest. If there is no expressed state interest, the municipalities and the courts should presume that a municipality has the authority to act. Second, the state courts should use the test of preemption found in the Massachusetts case, Bloom, where the court asks, "does the local ordinance frustrate the purpose of the state law?" This judicial test would give municipalities greater leeway to enact more restrictive (than state law) local ordinances in areas where the local situation would warrant such an action.
The final area where the clarity and viability of home rule could be enhanced is by a recodification of the general laws relating to municipalities. A legislative study committee should be appointed to codify those statutes applicable to municipal government and weed out those laws that since home rule are no longer necessary.