Home Rule Charter for Allegheny County
Approved by the
Voters of Allegheny County
at the election held on
May 19, 1998
Summary of Home Rule
Allegheny County operations are determined by a set of laws known as the Second Class County Code. Only the Pennsylvania General Assembly in Harrisburg can change the code. Legislators from all over the state decide on any administrative changes, large or small, in Allegheny County operations. Home rule gives control over the structure and operations of county government to Allegheny County voters.
Home rule does not set a county adrift from the rest of the state. Allegheny County is still subject to restrictions found in the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions and in state laws applicable to all counties. Counties without home rule can do only those things specifically authorized by state law; however, home rule counties can do anything not specifically forbidden by state or federal law.
The Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law (Act 62 of 1972) is the enabling legislation under which most home rule counties in the Commonwealth have adopted their charters. Allegheny County developed its home rule charter through special legislation, the Second Class County Charter Law (Act 12 of 1997). Allegheny County sought and was granted this option for adopting its home rule charter because a previous effort had already provided the required study of the countys government mandated by Act 62. Furthermore, because the Act 62 process is very time consuming, using it would have delayed the home rule reforms until 2004.
An Outline of the Second Class County Charter Law
(also known as House Bill 329 and as Act 12 of 1997)
The Home Rule Charter was the subject of a May 1998 referendum. The voters approved the charter and the Allegheny County electorate chose a County Executive and County Council in November 1999. They were sworn into office on January 3, 2000.