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September 20, 2017

Questions About the Governance of Regional Authorities in Michigan


September 2017 | Memorandum 1146

In a Nutshell

  • The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that general purpose local governments adhere to the “one person, one vote” principle, i.e., elected government officials should represent roughly equal numbers of people.
  • The governance of regional authorities, such as the RTA has not been required to adopt the “one person, one vote” principle. Regional authorities are generally governed by appointed boards representing the participating local governments.
  • Regional authorities are created to provide a single government service, but when they possess broad powers including taxation, the question of governance becomes more relevant.
  • Policymakers, and perhaps the courts, must decide whether governance of regional authorities is best served through appointments to the board by participating local governments or direct election of representatives based on the “one person, one vote” principle.
September 20, 2017

Questions About the Governance of Regional Authorities in Michigan


September 2017 | Memorandum 1146

In a Nutshell

  • The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that general purpose local governments adhere to the “one person, one vote” principle, i.e., elected government officials should represent roughly equal numbers of people.
  • The governance of regional authorities, such as the RTA has not been required to adopt the “one person, one vote” principle. Regional authorities are generally governed by appointed boards representing the participating local governments.
  • Regional authorities are created to provide a single government service, but when they possess broad powers including taxation, the question of governance becomes more relevant.
  • Policymakers, and perhaps the courts, must decide whether governance of regional authorities is best served through appointments to the board by participating local governments or direct election of representatives based on the “one person, one vote” principle.

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