Preserving State and Local Laws: No “Ultra Vires” Contract Terms

Democratic self-government requires that local officials be accountable to the public for their actions, and that changes to local laws be achieved either through referenda (in which the public votes directly) or through an open legislative process in which representatives debate and vote. No private entity should be in a position to negate or revise the law to its own benefit, nor should local officials be able to effectively repeal or amend the law through a back door created by collective bargaining. As discussed earlier, the Legislature should clarify that contracts must conform to all relevant state and local laws; contract terms that violate these laws should be considered “ultra vires” and therefore void.