Laws governing local ballot measures in Missouri

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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Missouri Constitution
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IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII
Some Missouri local governments have an initiative process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Missouri. 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

Local government in Missouri consists of 114 counties, 312 townships, and 955 cities and villages. In addition, there are 1837 special districts and 534 independent school districts.[1]

Further classifications:

Counties may be:

  • General law: of which there are 110
  • Home rule charter: of which there are 4 (Jackson, St. Charles, Jefferson, St. Louis County)

Cities and villages are classified as:

  • Constitutional charter cities: A city must have a population over 5,000 to adopt a charter. 38 cities have done so.
  • Special legislative charter cities and towns: of which there are 6 remaining
  • Third class city (3,000-29,999 population at time of incorporation): of which there are 56
  • Fourth class city (500-2,999 population at time of incorporation): of which there are approximately 550
  • Village (fewer than 500 population at time of incorporation): of which there are approximately 300[2](#'s as of 2007)
Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Missouri

Missouri mandates four types of school bond and tax elections. The first is to issue new bonding for capital improvements and new construction. They are also required if a school district wants to exceed its debt limit, which is also known as a debt ceiling. Also, elections are required if a school district wants to exceed a basic operating levy. The basic operating levy and the debt ceiling levy are different since the debt ceiling is a limit on all outstanding levies in a school district, while the operating levy is related to operational expenses only. Lastly, if a school district wants to revise a existing levy in order to increase or decrease it, a Proposition C referendum is mandated. Proposition C is protected by the Missouri Constitution. There are tough super majority requirements as a bond issue requires a four-sevenths vote (57.15%) while any referendum involving exceeding the levy cap, debt ceiling levy, or a Proposition C levy referendum requires a two-thirds super majority vote (66.7%) for approval. Missouri is one of a small number of states that requires super-majority approval from the voters to approve a ballot measure related to school finance.

Annexation

A Missouri municipality can annex property in two ways:

  • Voluntary annexation: Voluntary annexation is an easy process in which both the property owner and the city desire annexation.
  • Involuntary annexation: Involuntary or forced annexation is a more difficult process, which requires an ordinance decided by municipal election, with a 2/3rds (66.67%) super-majority voter approval necessary for the ordinance to pass.[3]

Local recall rules

Missourians do not have the right of statewide recall. However, the right of local recall is available in:

  • Cities defined as Class 3 cities.
  • Cities that operate under a city charter, if the specific city charter allows for recall.

The recall process that applies to Class 3 cities in Missouri is governed by MRS §77.650 and 78.260.

Generally:

  • Recall may not commence during the elected official's first 6 months in office
  • The grounds for recall must be stated, and must include misconduct in office, incompetence, and failure to perform duties prescribed by law.
  • 60 days are allowed for collecting signatures.
  • Signatures equal to 25% of the registered voters in the city must be collected.
For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Missouri

Campaign finance rules

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Missouri ballot measures

Initiative process availability

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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The availability of initiative varies depending upon the classification, form of government, and home rule status of a city or county.

Counties

All four charter counties have initiative for charter amendments and county measures.[4][5][6][7]

Cities

  • Constitutional charter cities: The Missouri Constitution Article VI Section 20 mandates that charter cities allow initiative for charter amendments and may also adopt an initiative process for ordinances. The charters of the eight most populated cities (Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, Columbia, Lee's Summit, St. Joseph, and St. Charles) all permit initiative. Signature requirements and filing deadlines vary by charter.
  • Third class cities:

Third class cities with a commission or a council-manager form of government have an initiative process for ordinances provided by state statutes, Missouri Revised Statutes Section 78.200 for commission and Section 78.573 for council-manager. The main difference between the two statutes is the required percentage of signatures. A Missouri court recently questioned whether Section 78.573 requires an enabling city ordinance to be available to citizens, but did not reach a definite holding on the issue.[8]

Third class cities with a Mayor-Council and Mayor-Administrator-Council form of government are not granted initiative authority by state statutes.

  • Fourth class cities and villages are not granted initiative authority by state statutes.[9]

Authority

Constitution

Statutes

  • Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 81.013- special legislative charter amendment through initiative DocumentIcon.jpg See law: 81.013
  • Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 78.200, 210, 240, 270- initiative in commission cities DocumentIcon.jpg See law: 78.200 Chap. 78
  • Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 78.573, 575- initiative in council-manager cities DocumentIcon.jpg See law: 78.573 78.575

Initiative process features

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

Third Class Cities



Charter Cities


Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Missouri
City[10] Population City Type Next election
Kansas City 463,202 Charter 2015
St. Louis 318,069 Charter 2015
Springfield 160,660 Charter N/A
Independence 117,213 Charter N/A
Columbia 110,438 Charter N/A
Lee's Summit 91,668 Charter N/A
St. Joseph 77,185 Charter N/A
St. Charles 66,598 Charter N/A
O'Fallon 80,519 General law N/A
St. Peters 53,264 General law N/A

8 of the top 10 most populated cities in Missouri are governed under a home rule charter. Initiative is available for charter amendments as detailed above. Those 8 have all also authorized initiative for ordinances. The provisions below come from the specific city charter or code. Click on the citation links to read the full requirements for the initiative process. Sample petitions may be available from local election officials.



External links

References