Laws governing local ballot measures in Kansas

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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All incorporated cities in Kansas have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Kansas. 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 Kansas consists of:

  • 626 city governments.
  • 1268 town governments.
  • 103 county governments.
  • In addition, there are 1,503 special districts and 306 independent school districts.[1]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Kansas
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School bond and tax elections in Kansas happen under two circumstances:
  • To issue new bonding
  • To exceed the capital outlay mill rate.

Local recall rules

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The citizens of Kansas are granted the authority to perform a recall election by the Section 2 of Article 4 of the Kansas Constitution. The right of recall applies to all elective officers excepting judges.

The relevant statutes define two separate categories of elected officials that can be recalled. These are State Officers and Local Officers. National officeholders and judicial officers are not subject to recall.

  • State Officers are those persons holding the following positions: Governor, State Senator, State Representative, State Board of Education Member, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner.
  • Local Officers are defined as any other elected officials (excluding those not subject to recall). Procedures and requirements for recalling these officers are handled separately by each local jurisdiction.
For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Kansas

Initiative process availability

The local units of government in Kansas that make the initiative process available are:

  • Cities: all 626 of which have ordinance initiative and charter ordinance referendum.
  • Counties: all 103 of which have referendum for charter resolutions.

Authority

Constitution

Article 12, Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution gives cities the right to home-rule. The citizens have the mandated power of referendum regarding all charter ordinances. "Any city may by charter ordinance elect in the manner prescribed in this section that the whole or any part of any enactment of the legislature applying to such city, other than enactments of statewide concern applicable uniformly to all cities, other enactments applicable uniformly to all cities, and enactments prescribing limits of indebtedness, shall not apply to such city.(2) A charter ordinance is an ordinance which exempts a city from the whole or any part of any enactment of the legislature as referred to in this section and which may provide substitute and additional provisions on the same subject. Such charter ordinance shall be so titled, shall designate specifically the enactment of the legislature or part thereof made inapplicable to such city by the adoption of such ordinance and contain the substitute and additional provisions, if any, and shall require a two-thirds vote of the members-elect of the governing body of such city. Every charter ordinance shall be published once each week for two consecutive weeks in the official city newspaper or, if there is none, in a newspaper of general circulation in the city.(3) No charter ordinance shall take effect until sixty days after its final publication. If within sixty days of its final publication a petition signed by a number of electors of the city equal to not less than ten percent of the number of electors who voted at the last preceding regular city election shall be filed in the office of the clerk of such city demanding that such ordinance be submitted to a vote of the electors, it shall not take effect until submitted to a referendum and approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon. An election, if called, shall be called within thirty days and held within ninety days after the filing of the petition."

Statutes

Chapter 19, Article 1, Sec. 1b of the Kansas Statutes mandates the power of charter referendum to all counties.

Chapter 12, Article 30, Sec. 13 of the Kansas statutes gives authority to cities to have a state prescribed initiative and referendum process for ordinances. This process is present in all Kansas cities unless explicitly denied by the city itself through a charter ordinance.

"Petition for proposed ordinance; requirements; passage or election; form of ballot; approval, effect; amendment or repeal; publication. (a) Except as provided in subsection (e), a proposed ordinance may be submitted to the governing body of any city accompanied by a petition as provided by this section. Such petition shall be signed by electors equal in number to at least 25% in cities of the first class, and 40% in cities of the second and third class, of the electors who voted at the last preceding regular city election as shown by the poll books and shall contain a request that the governing body pass the ordinance or submit the same to a vote of the electors. Such ordinance and petition shall be filed with the city clerk."

Initiative process features

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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A state determined initiative and referendum process for ordinances is available in all cities. All Kansas cities have the authority to restrict or remove this process through charter ordinances. The initiative process is detailed in Kansas Statutes Chapter 12, Article 30, Section 13[2] and Chapter 25, Article 36.[3]


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Kansas
City[5] Population City Type Next election
Wichita 384,445 Charter Special Election
Overland Park 176,185 Charter Special Election
Kansas City 146,453 Charter as consolidated city-county Special Election
Topeka 128,188 Charter Special Election
Olathe 127,907 Charter Special Election
Lawrence 88,727 Charter Special Election
Shawnee 63,219 Charter Special Election
Manhattan 53,678 Charter Special Election
Lenexa 48,972 Charter Special Election
Salina 47,910 Charter Special Election
Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns


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References