Home Rule in Maine

Maine adopted home rule in 1969 when the proposal was on the ballot as Proposed Constitutional Amendment no. 3.  The measure was approved by 57.61% of voters.  Home Rule is in Article VIII, Part Second of the Constitution, titled Municipal Home Rule, and reads:

§1 Power of Municipalities to Amend Their Charters

The inhabitants of a 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 nature.  The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.

(Note:  What the Legislature has instituted is below, and shows that this power is not limited to municipalities with charters, but to all municipalities.  Only those in the Unorganized Territories do not have home rule.)

Maine Revised Statutes

30-A  §3001. Ordinance Power

Any municipality, by the adoption, amendment or repeal of ordinances or bylaws, may 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 of Maine, general law or charter.

  1. Liberal construction. This section, being necessary for the welfare of the municipalities and their inhabitants, shall be liberally construed to effect its purposes.
  2. Presumption of authority.  There is a rebuttable presumption that any ordinance enacted under this section is a valid exercise of a municipality’s home rule authority.
  3. Standard of preemption.  The legislature shall not be held to have implicitly denied any power granted to municipalities under this section unless the municipal ordinance in question would frustrate the purpose of any state law.
  4. Penalties accrue to municipality.  All penalties established by ordinance shall be recovered on complaint to the use of the municipality.