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Antieau on Local Government Law, Second Edition
Copyright 2016, Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group.

2-25 Antieau on Local Government Law, Second Edition 25.syn


Exercise of Authority by Local Legislative Body


Chester James Antieau;; General Editor: Sandra M. Stevenson

Chapter Summary


This chapter from Antieau on Local Government Law, Second Edition addresses the exercise of authority by the local legislative body. The chapter begins with a discussion of the composition, election, and authority of the elected legislative body, usually designated as the council, board, commission, or assembly. It also describes how some local governments use a direct form of legislation known as the town meeting. The chapter further explains that a governing board has only those powers expressly granted by the constitution, statutes, or charter, and those necessarily implied to effectuate the granted powers. It also notes that local legislative action may be challenged if it violates federal and state constitutional protections afforded individuals.

The chapter then covers the membership qualifications, compensation, and resignation and removal of members of the legislative body. It additionally reviews meetings of the local legislative body, including notice of meeting, quorum, and open meeting requirements. The chapter also discusses investigations, noting that local legislative bodies can investigate matters within their legislative competence and can sometimes utilize subpoenas to compel the production of witnesses and records. The chapter further describes public records, including what constitutes a public record, public access to public records, and management and correction of public records.

Next, the chapter examines issues related to voting, including voting by the chief executive of the local government, conflicts of interest prohibiting members of a local governing body from voting, and judicial review of the motives of local legislators in enacting legislation. It also covers voting procedures, such as quorum and majority requirements.

The chapter then reviews the enactment of local legislation, covering the forms of legislation, such as local laws, ordinances, resolutions, or administrative orders; the procedures for enactment; notice and hearing requirements; publication requirements; recording requirements; signature and approval, or veto, by the governing official; and effective date. It further mentions the enactment of emergency legislation, which may not follow the customary procedures. The chapter also covers the suspension, amendment, repeal, and revival of legislation, as well as the compilation, codification, and revision of legislation. With regard to the interpretation and construction of legislation, the chapter reviews the principal rule of construction of capturing the intent of the persons responsible for the legislation. Additionally, the chapter discusses the retroactivity, judicial notice, and severability of local legislation. With regard to the enforcement of legislation, the chapter reviews the local power of enforcement, the applicability of laches and estoppel in enforcement, discriminatory enforcement, res judicata, collateral estoppel, the statute of limitations, injunctions, and declaratory judgment actions. Finally, the chapter covers judicial review of legislation.

Antieau on Local Government Law, Second Edition (Matthew Bender) provides comprehensive treatment of local government law, with coverage of municipal corporations, independent local government entities, counties, authorities and districts, and federal and state governments. It also includes coverage of such topics as home rule, police powers, contracts, torts, civil rights, education, land use regulation, finances, local courts, officers and employees, elections and referendums, and public housing and public assistance.


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For more information on general local powers, see Chapter 21, Home Rule Powers for Local Governments; Chapter 22, Home Rule: Interaction between State and Local Authority; Chapter 23, Local Government Charters; and Chapter 24, Extent and Interpretation of Local Government Authority.

For more information on the exercise of general local powers, see Chapter 26, Exercise of Authority by Local Administrative Agency.


See Administrative Law (Matthew Bender) for current, objective, and authoritative guidance on all aspects of administrative law and the administrative process, with special emphasis on federal agencies.

See Land Use Law (Matthew Bender) for in-depth coverage of environmental pressures, fierce debates about growth, and civil rights issues that continue to redraw the boundaries defining land use law.
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