Spokane Council amends local initiative process

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May 1, 2012


Washington: The Spokane city council has passed a local ordinance which changes the requirements for local initiative petitions. The new ordinance makes it that the city attorney's office must write the ballot summary and a fiscal statement on the cost of the measure must be included. The council voted 4-3 on Monday April 30 in favor of the ordinance. Those who were in favor stated that with the attorney's office writing the ballot language, it would save petitioners the hassle of having their petition deemed invalid at a later date because of technical errors. Those seeking to petition for a certain measure would work with the attorney to ensure the proposed language is what they want to petition for. These new rules for the city are already in place on the state level, so it would bring the local process more in line with the state's process. The fiscal statement was also deemed as important because those in favor stated that it was important that potential petition signers know what the measure would end up costing them if it were approved or defeated.[1]

Those opposed to the new rules note that this will make it harder for residents to go directly to voter's for their opinions. But council members who voted in favor believe that the process would be more transparent now with the new rules. An alternative ordinance was proposed as well, one which would not require a fiscal statement on the ballot, but this was defeated 4-3.[1]

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