Article XI, Section 5 of the Texas Constitution

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As amended November 8, 2011:

(a) Cities having more than five thousand (5000) inhabitants may, by a majority vote of the qualified voters of said city, at an election held for that purpose, adopt or amend their charters. If the number of inhabitants of cities that have adopted or amended their charters under this section is reduced to five thousand (5000) or fewer, the cities still may amend their charters by a majority vote of the qualified voters of said city at an election held for that purpose. The adoption or amendment of charters is subject to such limitations as may be prescribed by the Legislature, and no charter or any ordinance passed under said charter shall contain any provision inconsistent with the Constitution of the State, or of the general laws enacted by the Legislature of this State. Said cities may levy, assess and collect such taxes as may be authorized by law or by their charters; but no tax for any purpose shall ever be lawful for any one year, which shall exceed two and one-half per cent. of the taxable property of such city, and no debt shall ever be created by any city, unless at the same time provision be made to assess and collect annually a sufficient sum to pay the interest thereon and creating a sinking fund of at least two per cent. thereon, except as provided by Subsection (b). Furthermore, no city charter shall be altered, amended or repealed oftener than every two years.

(b) To increase efficiency and effectiveness to the greatest extent possible, the legislature may by general law authorize cities to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without meeting the assessment and sinking fund requirements under Subsection (a).

Editor Comments

As adopted in 1876, this section read: "Cities having more than ten thousand inhabitants may have their charters granted or amended by special act of the Legislature, and may levy, assess and collect such taxes as may be authorized by law, but no tax for any purpose shall ever be lawful for any one year, which shall exceed two and one-half per cent. of the taxable property of such city, and no debt shall ever be created by any city, unless at the same time provision be made to assess and collect annually a sufficient sum to pay the interest thereon and create a sinking fund of at least two per cent. thereon."

In 1909, the section was amended by lowering the population threshold to five thousand.

In 1912, the section was amended to authorize charter adoption and amendment by local vote.

Since then, the section has been known as the "Home Rule Amendment."

Steve Smith

Recent Court Decisions

None.

Historic Court Decisions

  • Burch v. City of San Antonio, 518 S.W.2d 540, 543 (Tex. 1975) (citations omitted) ("A city which operates under the Home Rule Amendment is empowered to adopt or amend its charter in any manner in which it may desire, consistent and in accordance with the state constitution and the general laws of this State. As a home rule city then, San Antonio is not required to look to the legislature for a grant of power to act, but only to ascertain if the legislature has placed any limitations on the city's constitutional power.")
  • State ex rel. Rose v. City of La Porte, 386 S.W.2d 782, 786 (Tex. 1965) ("It would be wholly unrealistic to hold that the electorate at the time of the adoption of the amendment intended that the census rule should control the determination of population. We are of the opinion, and so hold, that the population determination should be lodged with the governing body of the city, where the constitutional and the statutory enactments, as here involved, fail to specifically prescribe a method for determining the population.")
  • Forwood v. City of Taylor, 214 S.W.2d 282, 286 (Tex. 1948) ("It was the purpose of the Home-Rule Amendment, Art. XI, Sec. 5, and the enabling statutes, supra, to bestow upon accepting cities and towns of more than 5000 population full power of self-government, that is, full authority to do anything the legislature could theretofore have authorized them to do. The result is that now it is necessary to look to the acts of the legislature not for grants of power to such cities but only for limitations on their powers.")
  • City of Houston v. McCraw, 113 S.W.2d 1215, 1219 (Tex. 1938) ("In this case we simply hold that where a city has sources of revenue which are reasonably stable and sure, other than ad valorem taxes, the Attorney General should consider such other sources in passing on the question as to whether or not there is, and will be, sufficient margin of ad valorem taxing power to pay the bonds presented for approval.")
  • McNeill v. City of Waco, 33 S.W. 322, 324 (Tex. 1895) ("We conclude that the word 'debt,' as used in the constitutional provisions above quoted, means any pecuniary obligation imposed by contract, except such as were, at the date of the contract, within the lawful and reasonable contemplation of the parties, to be satisfied out of the current revenues for the year, or out of some fund then within the immediate control of the corporation.")

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