Relations between local governments and state governments in the United States have been of considerable interest to scholars from a wide variety of disciplines including law, political science, economics, history, sociology, public administration, and public policy. Many have focused in one way or another on local autonomy or local home rule. I use these terms interchangeably to refer to the general right of local governments to initiate policies they deem appropriate and to be protected from outside interference in a sphere of activities reserved to them. 1 Local autonomy reflects the principles of local self-determination, local self-government, and local self-sufficiency. Some too commonly equate local autonomy with local power, by which is meant the ability of local officials to make meaningful decisions. Scholars, as we note below, differ over how much power local governments actually have in this respect and, indeed, over how much power they should have.