Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U.S. 424, 14 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 424 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

Finally, we reiterate, reading the term "State" as used in 14501 to exclude political subdivisions would yield a decision at odds with our federal system's traditional comprehension of "the safety regulatory authority of a State," 14501(c)(2)(A). To repeat the essential observation made in Mortier: "The principle is well settled that local governmental units are created as convenient agencies for exercising such of the governmental powers of the State as may be entrusted to them in its absolute discretion." 501 U. S., at 607-608 (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). Whether and how to use that discretion is a question central to state self-government. See, e. g., Holt Civic Club v. Tuscaloosa, 439 U. S. 60, 71 (1978) (States enjoy "extraordinarily wide latitude . . . in creating various types of political subdivisions and conferring authority upon them").

In Ohio, as in other States, the delegation of governing authority from State to local unit has long occupied the attention of the State's lawmakers. See D. Wilcox, Municipal Government in Michigan and Ohio: A Study in the Relations of City and Commonwealth 52-54, 63 (1896) (citing Ohio Const., Art. XIII (1851)). The Ohio Constitution currently grants municipalities within the State general authority "to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with the general laws." Art. XVIII, 3. Ohio's Legislature has enacted several statutes empowering cities to regulate motor vehicles and highways. See, e. g., Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 715.22 (Anderson 2000) (municipality may regulate motor vehicles and highways); 723.01 ("Municipal corporations shall have special power to regulate the use of the streets."). Particularly relevant here, Ohio has exempted tow trucks from the State's regulation of motor carriers,

from "enact[ing]" new laws, it permits localities (but not States) to enforce previously enacted state laws relating to motor carriage of property.


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