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Many citizens inquire as to why there isn't just one place to look for those powers, duties and functions prescribed to Alabama Counties. In short, when Alabama formed its many and varied county governments, after entering the Federal Union, there was an effort to provide some uniformity as to county government being the same from county to county. However, because of Alabama's unique diversity, from region to region, many individual laws, called "Local Laws" were passed in the Legislature of Alabama by respective county Legislative Delegations to only apply to one county, while other county Legislative Delegations wrote other "Local Laws" to apply to their respective counties.
Generally, the place to begin researching for the powers, duties and functions of the governing body of Baldwin County starts with a review of Chapter 3, Title 11, Article 1, et seq., Code of Alabama 1975; however, please keep in mind that Act No. 239, 1931 Regular Session of the Legislature of Alabama, as amended, adds other powers, duties & functions which strengthen the framework of the institutional governmental authority of the governing body of Baldwin County. The auxiliary place to research the additional powers, duties and functions of the governing body of Baldwin County, through the General Law , should include a detailed review of the Ready Reference Index / General Index (Volume 24) of the Code of Alabama 1975 under the sections titled "Counties," "County" and "County Commission," published under the supervision of the State of Alabama Legislative Council. The auxiliary place to research the additional powers, duties and functions of the governing body of Baldwin County, through the enactment of Local Laws relating to the County, should include a detailed review of the State of Alabama Local Laws Index , published by the Legislative Reference Service of the State of Alabama.
Additionally, when assessing those powers, duties and functions exercised by any Alabama county, it is important to remember that counties are considered public quasi-corporations created by the State to serve as political subdivisions of such and, as a result, are limited, by the Legislature of Alabama, in what functions they perform.
Therefore, the express purpose of their creation is to assist the State in carrying out the authorized functions necessary to protect the health and welfare of the citizenry within a geographical area. As a result of having legislatively limited and narrowly defined powers, almost all counties in Alabama are considered to be lacking of "home rule" (with the exception of a handful of counties granted limited home rule powers) which, if established, would give a county those powers already exercised by municipalities - such as the power to unilaterally establish rules and regulations deemed appropriate by their respective governing bodies to be applicable within their jurisdictional limits without the consent of the Legislature of Alabama.