Local Ordinances: The Often Overlooked Laws

Vol. 42 No. 6


Shawn G. Nevers teaches legal research and is head of reference services and research instruction at the Howard W. Hunter Law Library at Brigham Young University.

Quarterbacks. Wide receivers. Running backs. They get all the hype. Offensive linemen? Not so much. And, while it defies logic that such enormous men could be overlooked, they may very well be invisible to the casual football fan.

Like an offensive line, local government law is often overlooked. Federal and state laws command the headlines and the highlights, not to mention most of the discussion in law school. Local government law gets little fanfare, even among those with a legal education, but it’s everywhere and you may very well be asked to research it. So, let’s get started.

Whether you realize it or not, local government law impacts much of what you do from day to day. These laws govern where and how you can park on city streets, whether you can smoke in public places, how loud a party can be, and what types of animals you can have for pets (no porcupines in Provo, Utah). While many of these examples of local laws—often referred to as ordinances—won’t necessitate an attorney, there are a number of areas governed by local government law that might.

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