Laws governing local ballot measures in Connecticut

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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Connecticut charter cities and towns have an initiative process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Connecticut. It explains:
  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

There are 179 local municipal governments in Connecticut. Of these, 104 operate under a charter.[1] No power is vested in Connecticut's counties, and the other types of local governments are similar to one another in their powers and functions. These types are as follows:

  • Cities and Boroughs: There are 30 such municipalities in Connecticut. These are further classified as boroughs and cities--primarily for historical reasons.
  • Towns/Townships: There are 149 townships in Connecticut. The entire area of the state is divided into townships and these townships are treated as municipalities under Connecticut law. The only exceptions to this rule are the 20 townships (not included in the count) which have been consolidated with cities or boroughs.[2]
  • In addition, there are 448 special districts and 17 independent school districts.[3]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Connecticut

In Connecticut, the voters of a school district must approve the district's budget on an annual basis. Connecticut and New Jersey are the only two states in the nation to require school district budgets to be approved by voters. If the referendum is defeated, then the school board must approve a new budget within a time frame mandated by Connecticut law. Also, voters in a municipality can approve bond issues for private academies recognized by the Connecticut Department of Education. If an academy defaults on its bond obligations, then all aid payments are withheld until the default is cured. Also, Connecticut requires state approval for public school bonding and capital projects, but does not require voter approval.

Local recall rules

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Very limited local recall is available in Connecticut in the "few Connecticut communities" that were granted certain home rule powers by the Connecticut State Legislature.[4]

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Connecticut

Initiative process availability

The powers of Initiative and Referendum for an amendment, or repeal of an amendment, to the municipal charter is mandated for all charter cities and towns and the process is largely determined by the State Statutes in Title 7 Ch. 99. According to section 7-188 of the State Statutes this power also applies to ordinances enacted before October 1 of 1982.[5][6]

Some charter local governments have the initiative and referendum power for local ordinances, but the process is set at the local level.[6]

There was no mention of initiative and referendum powers for general law cities or towns found in the Connecticut Constitution and State Statutes.[6]

For more information on which local governments have Initiative and Referendum powers and what the signature requirements are in each, see: Local Charter Governments with Initiative and Referendum Document

A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

Initiative process features

Authority

Constitution

There is no specific mention of initiative and referendum powers in the Connecticut Constitution.

Statutes

Petitions to amend, adopt or repeal a home rule charter or ordinance are dealt with in:

Charter Amendment Referendum is dealt with in:

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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

No additional individual city provisions for initiative or referendum were found in the top 10 most populous cities beyond the limited process given by state law and outlined above.

List of Most Populated Cities in Connecticut
City[8] Population City Type Next election
Bridgeport 145,638 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
New Haven 129,585 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Hartford 124,867 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Stamford 123,868 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Waterbury 110,189 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Norwalk 86,460 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Danbury 81,671 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
New Britain 73,261 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Meriden 60,770 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process
Bristol 60,525 Charter Town Meeting Initiative Process

See also

External links

References