Sunday, August 24, 2014

A freeholder stops by: I've got the Initiative process all wrong.

Randy Mueller, a Freeholder that I have not supported politically ever... feel free to search this blog as to my reasoning:

That said, I always welcome comments that express a respectful opposing view... unlike, say, the C3G2 hate site.

Comments of this variety, for example.  Randy came by and left the following:

Webmaster said... 
Kelly, just an FYI that the charter is amended via the charter amendment process, not the initiative process. See section 9.5 on page 13 of the charter for how the public gathers signatures and puts a proposed charter amendment on the ballot. In practice this works almost exactly the same as an initiative, only slightly different for technical reasons. 
Randy Mueller
I would have loved to know what those "technical reasons" were, but he did not elaborate.

Section 9.5 on the proposed charter says the following:
Section 9.5  Charter amendments proposed by the public  
A.  Proposing a Public Charter Amendment.  
1.  A registered voter of Clark County may file a proposed charter amendment with the auditor, who shall transmit a copy to the prosecuting attorney. Within ten business days of the filing date, the prosecuting attorney shall formulate a ballot title not to exceed fifty (50) words and posed as a positive question, which shall be a true and impartial statement.    
2.  The prosecuting attorney shall transmit the proposed ballot title to the auditor. The auditor shall give the proposed charter amendment an identifying number.    
3.  Within ten (10) business days of receiving the proposed ballot title, the auditor shall confer with the petitioner to establish the form and style of the charter amendment petition as required by the auditor or by ordinance. 
B.  Submission of a Public Charter Amendment. A proposed charter amendment petition must bear the valid signatures of registered voters of the county equal to at least twenty (20) percent of the number of votes cast in the county’s last gubernatorial election. Signatures shall be submitted to the auditor not more than one hundred fifty (150) calendar days following the date of conference with the petitioner to establish the form and style of the petition, and at least one hundred fifty (150) calendar days before the next general election. 
This flies in the face of my earlier post where I quoted the charter language that indicated the charter could not be amended by initiative.
Section 7.2 Initiative 
The people reserve the power of initiative. An ordinance or amendment to an ordinance, except as limited by state or federal law or court interpretation, may be proposed by filing an initiative petition with the auditor. No ordinance enacted as a result of initiative shall be amended or repealed within two (2) years after enactment, except as a result of a subsequent initiative or referendum or as required by state or federal law.
A.  Initiative Limitations. 
The following are limited by state or federal law or court interpretations and may not be proposed or adopted by initiative.  
1.  Ordinances providing for compensation or working conditions of county employees or elected officials 
2.  Redistricting council districts. 
3.  Authorizing or repealing an appropriation of money or any portion of the annual budget. 
4.  Authorizing or repealing taxes or fees. 
5.  Authorizing or repealing any provision of a service or program provided by the county. 
6.  Amending or repealing this charter. 
So, on one hand, there's language in this charter that says we cannot do what Randy now, apparently, claims that we CAN do if this thing passes.

Yes, I'm totally confused.

Also, elsewhere, the following disclaimer exists for other changes to the charter, but not, apparently, for changes under Section 9.5:
The people reserve the power of mini-initiative, except as limited by state or federal law and subject to Article 7, Section 2(A)
A legal opinion I just received concerning Section 9.5's lack of either definitions as to what can or cannot be done through this process indicates that, apparently, except as required under state law, the restrictions of Section 7.2(A) do not apply to a vote under Section 9.5.

That's confusing.

The other element that I find unacceptable is the percentage signature requirement:

Statewide, the percentage required to qualify for an initiative on the ballot is 8% of the last gubernatorial vote.

Under this charter, that percentage has has more than doubled to 20%.

Thus, based on the last election for governor, Clark County had 185,265 votes.  With the 20% rule, that would require 37,053 signatures.

Under the 8% standard used for statewide initiatives, the number of votes would be 14,821.

If the statewide percentage is good enough at 8%, then the county vote should be the same as that.

Meanwhile, confusion reigns.  But in the interests of full disclosure, I am posting this for discussion.

More later.

1 comment:

Jim Karlock said...

My reading is that section 9.5 applies within the periodic review process described in Section 9.1 above.

Section 9.1 Charter review commission
This charter shall be reviewed periodically by a charter review commission ("commission") as provided in this article.
A. Election and Period of Office.
Five (5) years after adoption of this charter and at least every ten (10) years thereafter, the council shall cause an election of a charter review commission. The commission shall consist of fifteen (15) persons, elected on a nonpartisan basis; three (3) will be from each council district and three (3) will be countywide. These candidates shall file during the regular candidate filing period and pay a twenty-five dollar ($25.00) filing fee. No primary will be held for this election. The election shall be held at the November general election. The member receiving the greatest number of votes shall convene the commission. The term of office for persons elected to the commission shall be one (1) year or until the work of the commission concludes, whichever occurs sooner. The commission may meet at appropriate times and places, as long as meetings are held within the jurisdictional boundaries of Clark County. Public notice of each meeting must be provided in a newspaper of general circulation throughout the county and by a posting on the county's website at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting.