Q:

Where do local governments derive power from?

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Quick Answer

As is the case with other forms of government in American political theory, local governments derive their power from the people; in practice, local governments receive their authorization from their respective states. Local governments, be they counties, townships or municipalities, are expected to obey and enforce the state constitution and auxiliary legislation.

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Full Answer

According to USHistory.org, county and municipal governments get their authority to rule only as granted by the state. County governments, for instance, receive incorporation approval from the state. Municipalities, such as cities and towns, often arise as part of counties. Nevertheless, they are ultimately subordinate to the state, not the county. Many cities become "independent cities," meaning they are independent of any county. Such municipalities establish their own public services, like police department and waste management. All this makes the relationship between state and local governments different from the relationship between the federal and state governments. The states are not subdivisions of the federal government, but sovereign political units that cannot be dissolved.

USHistory.org explains that local governments are responsible for the policy that most affects peoples' lives. Emergency services, schools, parks and recreation, police, courts, public works and transportation are most often administered at the local level.

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