The scope and structure of local government authority varies from state to state. North Carolina has long been seen as a modified “Dillon Rule” state, in which local governments only have as much power as they are given by the General Assembly. However, recent legislative developments and judicial interpretation have made local governments’ authority to act to protect their citizens less clear.
Local governments may take action either via enabling legislation passed by the General Assembly authorizing them to do so, or through their statutory powers to take action to prevent harm to the health and safety of their citizens (so-called “police powers”). What is clear is that, while their authority is limited in North Carolina, local governments can still take action to enforce quality job standards. The document below includes a broad strokes overview of the ways in which local authority around job quality is defined in our state.