Chapter 2.24
INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM

Sections:

2.24.010    Statement of intent.

2.24.020    General ordinance defined.

2.24.030    Effective date of general ordinances – Exceptions.

2.24.040    Effective date of general ordinances – Exceptions to referendum.

2.24.050    Initiative – Filing of proposed measure.

2.24.060    Initiative – Procedure by city clerk and city attorney.

2.24.070    Initiative – Statement.

2.24.080    Initiative petition – Time for filing.

2.24.090    Initiative petition – Requirements.

2.24.100    Initiative petition – Form and sufficiency.

2.24.110    Initiative petition – Receipt by city clerk.

2.24.120    Initiative petition – City council action.

2.24.130    Initiative petition – Appeal to court.

2.24.140    Initiative – Conduct of election.

2.24.150    Initiative – Notice of election.

2.24.160    Initiative – Ballots.

2.24.170    Initiative – Ballot title.

2.24.180    Initiative or alternative ordinance – Effective date – Record.

2.24.190    Initiative – Repeal or amendment.

2.24.200    Initiative – Repeal or amendment – Procedure.

2.24.210    Initiative – Repeal or amendment – Record.

2.24.220    Referendum – Petition.

2.24.230    Referendum – Statement.

2.24.240    Referendum – Filing suspends ordinance.

2.24.250    Initiative provisions applied to referendum process.

2.24.260    Referendum – Effective date – Record.

2.24.270    Initiative and referendum powers – Restriction or abandonment.

2.24.280    Restricting or abandoning powers – Ordinance.

2.24.010 Statement of intent.

The city council adopts the powers of initiative and referendum for the qualified electors of the city. (Ord. 452 § 1, 1978).

2.24.020 General ordinance defined.

“General ordinance,” for the purposes of this chapter and this chapter only, means an ordinance of general application throughout the city. (Ord. 452 § 2, 1978).

2.24.030 Effective date of general ordinances – Exceptions.

General ordinances of the city shall not go into effect until after 30 days from the time of final passage and are subject to referendum during that period. This clause shall not apply to ordinances exempted in this chapter. (Ord. 452 § 3, 1978).

2.24.040 Effective date of general ordinances – Exceptions to referendum.

Ordinances of the city shall not go into effect before 30 days from the time of final passage and legal publication and are subject to referendum during the interim except:

A. Ordinances initiated by petition;

B. Ordinances necessary for immediate preservation of public peace, health, and safety or for the support of city government and its existing public institutions which contain a statement of urgency and are passed by unanimous vote of the city council;

C. Ordinances providing for local improvement districts;

D. Ordinances appropriating money;

E. Ordinances providing for or approving collective bargaining;

F. Ordinances providing for the compensation or working conditions of city employees;

G. Ordinances authorizing or repealing the levy of taxes;

H. Ordinances which are not general ordinances; and

I. Any ordinance exempted now or hereafter by state law from initiative and referendum processes. (Ord. 03C-19 § 1; Ord. 452 § 4, 1978).

2.24.050 Initiative – Filing of proposed measure.

Ordinances may be initiated by petition of electors of the city. If any individual or committee of individuals desires to petition the city council to enact a proposed measure, that individual or committee shall file in the office of the city clerk five printed or typewritten copies of the measure proposed, accompanied by the name and post office address of the proposer. (Ord. 452 § 5, 1978).

2.24.060 Initiative – Procedure by city clerk and city attorney.

Upon filing of the proposed initiative measure, the city clerk shall assign a number to each such initiative petition and forthwith transmit one copy of the measure proposed, bearing such number, to the city council, the city manager and to the city attorney. Within 10 days after the receipt of an initiative measure, the city attorney shall formulate therefor and transmit to the city clerk, the city council, the city manager and the individual or committee proposing such measure, an initiative statement in the form of a question containing the essential feature of the measure. (Ord. 452 § 6, 1978).

2.24.070 Initiative – Statement.

An initiative statement shall be phrased in language so that a “yes” vote will clearly be a vote in favor of the action or condition that would result from the approval of the measure, and a “no” vote will clearly be a vote in opposition to such action or condition. The statement may be distinct from the petitioner’s title of the measure, and shall express and give a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure. It shall not intentionally be an argument or create prejudice, either for or against the measure. (Ord. 452 § 7, 1978).

2.24.080 Initiative petition – Time for filing.

Initiative petitions containing the required signatures of registered voters of the city as provided in RCW 35A.11.100 must be filed with the city clerk within 90 days from the date of issuance of the initiative statement by the city attorney. If petitioner fails to file such petition within the prescribed time limit, it shall have no validity and the petition will not be considered by the council as an initiative petition. (Ord. 452 § 8, 1978).

2.24.090 Initiative petition – Requirements.

Every signer to a petition submitting a proposed ordinance to the city council shall add to his/her signature, the signer’s printed name and his/her place of residence giving street and number. The signatures need not all be appended to one paper, but one of the signers on each paper must attach thereto an affidavit stating the number of signatures thereon, that each signature thereon is a genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be and that the statements therein made are true as he believes. (Ord. 452 § 9, 1978).

2.24.100 Initiative petition – Form and sufficiency.

The form and sufficiency of the petition shall be as follows:

A. A petition may include any page or group of pages containing the statement prepared by the city attorney along with the initiative number and shall contain the following essential elements when applicable:

1. The text or prayer of the petition shall be a concise statement of the action or relief sought by petitioners and shall include a reference to the applicable state statute or city ordinance, if any;

2. If the petition initiates or refers to an ordinance, a true copy of the ordinance;

3. Numbered lines for signatures with space provided beside each signature for the printed name of the signer, the address of the signer and the date of signing;

4. The warning statement prescribed in subsection B of this section.

B. Petitions shall be printed or typed on single sheets of white paper of good quality and each sheet of petition paper having a space thereon for signatures shall contain the text or prayer of the petition and the following warning:

WARNING:

Any person who signs this petition with any other than their true name, or who knowingly signs more than one of these petitions, or signs a petition seeking an election when he/she is not a legal voter, or signs a petition when he/she is otherwise not qualified to sign, or who makes herein any false statement, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Each signature shall be executed in ink or indelible pencil and shall be followed by the printed name of the signer, the date of the signing and the address of the signer as follows:

Petitioner’s Signature

Printed Name – Residence Address – Date

1. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

4. _______________________________

C. The term “signer” means any person who signs his own name to the petition.

D. To be sufficient a petition must contain valid signatures of qualified registered voters in number equal to not less than 15 percent of the names of persons listed as registered voters within the city on the day of the last preceding city general election. Within three working days after the filing of a petition, the city clerk shall transmit the petition to the county auditor for a determination of sufficiency. The county auditor whose duty it is to determine the sufficiency of the petition shall proceed to make such determination with reasonable promptness and shall file a certificate stating the date upon which such determination was begun, which date shall be referred to as the terminal date. Additional pages of one or more signatures may be added to the petition by filing the same with the county auditor prior to such terminal date. No signatures shall be accepted or withdrawn after such terminal date. Any signer of a filed petition may withdraw his or her signature by a written request for withdrawal filed with the county auditor prior to such terminal date. Such written request shall so sufficiently describe the petition as to make identification of the person and the petition certain. The name of any person seeking to withdraw shall be signed exactly the same as contained on the petition and filing of such request for withdrawal, prior to the terminal date, the signature of any person seeking such withdrawal shall be deemed withdrawn.

E. Petitions containing the required number of signatures shall be accepted as prima facie valid until their invalidity has been proved.

F. A variation on petitions between the signatures on the petition and that on the voter’s permanent registration caused by the substitution of initials instead of the first or middle names, or both, shall not invalidate the signatures on the petition if the surname and handwriting are the same.

G. Signatures, including the original, of any person who has signed a petition two or more times shall be stricken.

H. Signatures following a date of signing which is more than 90 days prior to the date of filing of the petition shall be stricken.

I. The county auditor who is responsible for determining the sufficiency of the petition shall do so in writing and transmit the written certificate to the city clerk with whom the petition was originally filed. (Ord. 03C-19 § 2; Ord. 452 § 10, 1978).

2.24.110 Initiative petition – Receipt by city clerk.

Within three working days from the filing of a petition submitting a proposed ordinance, the city clerk shall stamp the petition on the date received and forward the petition to the county auditor for a determination of sufficiency or insufficiency pursuant to MICC 2.24.100. (Ord. 03C-19 § 3; Ord. 452 § 11, 1978).

2.24.120 Initiative petition – City council action.

A. If the petition is certified by the county auditor as sufficient pursuant to MICC 2.24.100, and if it contains a request that, unless passed by the city council, the ordinance be submitted to a vote of the people, the city council shall either:

1. Pass the proposed ordinance without alteration within a reasonable time period after the county auditor’s certificate of sufficiency; or

2. Reject the proposed ordinance; the city council may after rejection of any initiative measure propose and pass a different ordinance dealing with the same subject.

B. If the city council rejects any initiative measure, or fails to pass an initiative measure without alteration within a reasonable time period after the county auditor’s certificate of sufficiency is attached, or passes a different measure dealing with the same subject, the initiative measure without alteration and the different measure dealing with the same subject, if any, shall be submitted to the qualified electors of the city for approval or rejection at a special election to be held on the next available date specified for special elections pursuant to RCW 29.13.020. (Ord. 03C-19 § 4; Ord. 452 § 12, 1980).

2.24.130 Initiative petition – Appeal to court.

If the county auditor finds the petition insufficient, or if the city council refuses either to pass an initiative ordinance or order an election thereon, any taxpayer within the city may commence an action in the superior court against the county or city for the purpose of requiring an election to be held in the city for the purpose of voting upon the proposed ordinance if the court finds the petition to be sufficient. (Ord. 03C-19 § 5; Ord. 452 § 13, 1980).

2.24.140 Initiative – Conduct of election.

Publication of notice, the election, the canvass of the returns and declaration of the results shall be conducted in all respects as are other city elections. Any number of proposed ordinances may be voted on at the same election, but there shall not be more than one special election for that purpose during any one six-month period. (Ord. 452 § 14, 1980).

2.24.150 Initiative – Notice of election.

The city clerk shall cause any ordinance or proposition required to be submitted to the voters at an election to be published in each of the weekly newspapers published within the city. This publication shall be in addition to the notice required in Chapter 29.27 RCW. (Ord. 452 § 15, 1980).

2.24.160 Initiative – Ballots.

The ballots used for voting upon a proposed ordinance shall be similar to those used at a general municipal election and shall contain the words “for the ordinance” (stating the nature of the proposed ordinance) and “against the ordinance” (stating the nature of the proposed ordinance). (Ord. 452 § 16, 1980).

2.24.170 Initiative – Ballot title.

When any initiative petition is found to be sufficient by the county auditor and the proposal or question is to be submitted to the voters, the question or proposal shall be advertised, and in such cases there shall also be printed on the ballot a concise statement not exceeding 100 words containing the essential features thereof expressed in such a manner as to clearly identify the proposition to be voted upon, which statement shall be prepared by the city attorney. In addition to such statement, the city attorney preparing the statement shall also prepare a caption, not to exceed 10 words in length, to permit the voters readily to identify the proposition and distinguish it from other propositions on the ballot. This caption shall be placed on the ballot immediately before the statement and shall be printed in heavy black type in such a manner as to be readable at a glance. The caption and statement together shall constitute the ballot title. (Ord. 03C-19 § 6; Ord. 452 § 17, 1980).

2.24.180 Initiative or alternative ordinance – Effective date – Record.

If a majority of the number of votes cast thereon favor the proposed ordinance, it shall become effective immediately and shall be made a part of the record of ordinances of the city. In case the city council shall, after rejection of the initiative measure, have passed a different measure dealing with the same subject, it shall be submitted at the same election with the initiative measure and be subject to the same notice and advertising requirements as the initiative measure and the vote of the qualified electors also taken for and against the same, and if both such measures be approved by a majority vote, if they be conflicting in any particular, then the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall thereby be adopted, and the other shall be considered rejected. (Ord. 452 § 18, 1980).

2.24.190 Initiative – Repeal or amendment.

Upon the adoption of an ordinance initiated by petition, the city clerk shall write on the margin of the record thereof “Ordinance by Petition No. ____,” or “Ordinance by Vote of the People.” No ordinance initiated by petition and approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the city council until after a period of two years following such approval; provided, that any such ordinance may be amended within said two-year period by passage of an amendatory ordinance at any regular or special meeting of the city council by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to the city council. No amendatory ordinance passed in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum; however, any such ordinance may be amended or repealed through the initiative process. (Ord. 452 § 19, 1980).

2.24.200 Initiative – Repeal or amendment – Procedure.

A. The city council may by means of an ordinance submit a proposition for the repeal or amendment of an ordinance, initiated by petition, by submitting it to a vote of the people at any general election and if a majority of the votes cast upon the proposition favor it, the ordinance shall be repealed or amended accordingly.

B. A proposition of repeal or amendment must be published before the election, and shall conform to the publication requirements of MICC 2.24.150. (Ord. 452 § 20, 1980).

2.24.210 Initiative – Repeal or amendment – Record.

Upon the adoption of a proposition to repeal or amend an ordinance initiated by petition, the city clerk shall write upon the margin of the record of the ordinance “repealed (or amended) by Ordinance No. ______,” or “repealed (or amended) by vote of the people.” (Ord. 452 § 21, 1980).

2.24.220 Referendum – Petition.

A petition may be filed with the city clerk within 30 days from the passage of a general ordinance by the city council, petitioning the council to reconsider an ordinance which is subject to referendum, or to submit same to a vote of the people. (Ord. 452 § 22, 1980).

2.24.230 Referendum – Statement.

A. A referendum statement on a petition shall be phrased in the following language:

Should City of Mercer Island Ordinance No. ____ relating to ________, enacted by the Mercer Island City Council on _______, be repealed in its entirety? Your signature on this petition indicates your vote in favor of repeal of the attached ordinance in its entirety.

B. A copy of the ordinance subject to such referendum petition shall be attached to each referendum petition to inform the parties requested to sign such petition. (Ord. 452 § 23, 1980).

2.24.240 Referendum – Filing suspends ordinance.

Upon the filing of a referendum petition, which the county auditor has determined is sufficient pursuant to MICC 2.24.100, petitioning that such ordinance be submitted to the electorate, the city council shall reconsider an ordinance subject to referendum and upon reconsideration shall either (1) defeat it in its entirety, or (2) submit it to a vote of the people. The effective date of an ordinance so protested against shall be suspended until the referendum petition is either found insufficient or the protested ordinance has been approved by a majority of votes cast at the election. (Ord. 03C-19 § 7; Ord. 452 § 24, 1980).

2.24.250 Initiative provisions applied to referendum process.

All provisions applicable to the form of the petition and sufficiency of signatures required for an initiative petition as set forth in MICC 2.24.090, 2.24.100, and 2.24.110, and to the submission to the vote of the people as set forth in MICC 2.24.140, 2.24.150, 2.24.160, and 2.24.170, shall apply to a referendum petition and to the ordinance sought to be defeated thereby. (Ord. 452 § 25, 1980).

2.24.260 Referendum – Effective date – Record.

If a majority of the number of votes cast thereon oppose the ordinance subject to the referendum, such ordinance shall be deemed repealed immediately. (Ord. 452 § 26, 1980).

2.24.270 Initiative and referendum powers – Restriction or abandonment.

A. The exercise of such initiative and referendum powers may be restricted or abandoned upon passage of a resolution by the city council or by the filing of a sufficient petition with the city clerk signed by qualified electors in number equal to not less than 10 percent of the votes cast at the last general municipal election. The sufficiency of the petition for restriction or abandonment shall be determined by the city clerk and certified as to sufficiency.

B. The proposal for restriction of the initiative and/or referendum powers and/or the proposal for abandonment of such powers shall be voted upon at the next general municipal election if one is to be held within 180 days from the date of filing of the petition, or at a special election to be called for that purpose not less than 90 days nor more than 180 days after the passage of the resolution or the certification of sufficiency of the petition. The ballot title and statement of proposition shall be prepared by the city attorney as provided in MICC 2.24.170. (Ord. 452 § 27, 1980).

2.24.280 Restricting or abandoning powers – Ordinance.

If a majority of votes cast at the election favor restriction or abandonment, such powers of initiative or referendum shall be deemed so restricted or abandoned. (Ord. 452 § 28, 1980).