Article XII


Section 1. PROHIBITION OF SPECIAL LEGISLATION; PARTICULAR SUBJECTS. In all cases when a general law can be made applicable, a special law shall not be enacted except as provided in section 2. Whether a general law could have been made applicable in any case shall be judicially determined without regard to any legislative assertion on that subject. The legislature shall pass no local or special law authorizing the laying out, opening, altering, vacating or maintaining of roads, highways, streets or alleys; remitting fines, penalties or forfeitures; changing the names of persons, places, lakes or rivers; authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children; changing the law of descent or succession; conferring rights on minors; declaring any named person of age; giving effect to informal or invalid wills or deeds, or affecting the estates of minors or persons under disability; granting divorces; exempting property from taxation or regulating the rate of interest on money; creating private corporations, or amending, renewing, or extending the charters thereof; granting to any private corporation, association, or individual any special or exclusive privilege, immunity or franchise whatever or authorizing public taxation for a private purpose. The inhibitions of local or special laws in this section shall not prevent the passage of general laws on any of the subjects enumerated.

Sec. 2. SPECIAL LAWS; LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Every law which upon its effective date applies to a single local government unit or to a group of such units in a single county or a number of contiguous counties is a special law and shall name the unit or, in the latter case, the counties to which it applies. The legislature may enact special laws relating to local government units, but a special law, unless otherwise provided by general law, shall become effective only after its approval by the affected unit expressed through the voters or the governing body and by such majority as the legislature may direct. Any special law may be modified or superseded by a later home rule charter or amendment applicable to the same local government unit, but this does not prevent the adoption of subsequent laws on the same subject. The legislature may repeal any existing special or local law, but shall not amend, extend or modify any of the same except as provided in this section.

Sec. 3. LOCAL GOVERNMENT; LEGISLATION AFFECTING. The legislature may provide by law for the creation, organization, administration, consolidation, division and dissolution of local government units and their functions, for the change of boundaries thereof, for their elective and appointive officers including qualifications for office and for the transfer of county seats. A county boundary may not be changed or county seat transferred until approved in each county affected by a majority of the voters voting on the question.

Sec. 4. HOME RULE CHARTER. Any local government unit when authorized by law may adopt a home rule charter for its government. A charter shall become effective if approved by such majority of the voters of the local government unit as the legislature prescribes by general law. If a charter provides for the consolidation or separation of a city and a county, in whole or in part, it shall not be effective without approval of the voters both in the city and in the remainder of the county by the majority required by law.

Sec. 5. CHARTER COMMISSIONS. The legislature shall provide by law for charter commissions. Notwithstanding any other constitutional limitations the legislature may require that commission members be freeholders, provide for their appointment by judges of the district court, and permit any member to hold any other elective or appointive office other than judicial. Home rule charter amendments may be proposed by a charter commission or by a petition of five percent of the voters of the local government unit as determined by law and shall not become effective until approved by the voters by the majority required by law. Amendments may be proposed and adopted in any other manner provided by law. A local government unit may repeal its home rule charter and adopt a statutory form of government or a new charter upon the same majority vote as is required by law for the adoption of a charter in the first instance.

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