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Sub-state regionalism and metropolitan governance have been long-time preoccupations of the National Civic League. Despite evolution and refinement, NCL policy in this arena continues to emphasize the essential situational nature of regionalism: solutions must be tailored to the unique characteristics and history of individual regional communities.
Throughout its history, the National Civic League's program has necessarily been directly concerned with problems of intergovernmental relations. The object of NCL's fist Municipal Program in 1900 was to provide cities with such a framework of government as would give them the widest possible freedom of action in formulating details of their own organization and determining local policy. The Municipal Program presented the first generalized statement of NCL's basic policy on state-local relations, often labeled "municipal home rule."
At the state level, the National Civic League has consistently encouraged the adoption of constitutional provisions and enabling statutes that permit municipalities and counties to draft their own charters. Permitting structural home rule is closely related to the whole question of constructing government in such a manner that it will be both responsible and responsive. The necessity of modifying governmental organization to meet varying conditions at different times and in different places is obvious. Structural home rule is a tool for accomplishing this.
When it comes to the more involved legal question of "substantive home rule," NCL policy has undergone a significant evolution. Until 1963, the Model State Constitution endorsed the legal position that guaranteed to "home rule" municipalities control over matters of "local" concern. This caused endless litigation, as efforts were made to distinguish between matters of "local" and matters of "state" concern. In the 1963 edition, a much more flexible position was advocated, whereby a locality "may exercise any legislative power or perform any function which is not denied to it" by state law. This position allows for maximal flexibility on the part of both local and state government, encouraging initiative on the …