Laws governing local ballot measures in Kentucky
| Ballot Law Portal|
|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Kentucky. 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.
Types of local government
Local government in Kentucky consists of:
- Counties: the state is divided into 120 counties.
- Cities: there are 418 cities in Kentucky. Cities are divided into classes according to population.
- First Class: 100,000 or more
- Second Class: 20,000 to 99,999
- Third Class: 8,000 to 19,999
- Fourth class: 3,000-7,999
- Fifth Class: 1,000 to 2,999
- Sixth Class: Less than 1,000
- The cities have different powers according to their class, but none of them can adopt a charter. However, all cities have limited Home rule powers under Kentucky Revised Statute 82.082. 
- Cities and Counties also have the option of consolidating governments under one of the forms provided by state law.
- Louisville-Jefferson operates as a Consolidated Local Government under Kentucky Revised Statute 67C.
- Lexington-Fayette operates as an Urban County Government under Kentucky Revised Statute 67A and the local charter created during the merger process.
- Consolidation may also occur as a Charter County under Kentucky Revised Statute 67.825 to 67.875, or as a Unified Local Government under 67.900 to 67.940.
- In addition, there are 604 special districts and 174 independent school districts.
Kentucky only allows for elections for bond issues. The Kentucky Constitution gives school districts the right to hold elections freely at any time and without any minimum notice requirement. The law also states that bond issues are limited to new construction and capital improvements. There are no restrictions on selling terms or maturity. However, Kentucky law bans referendums for the building of new athletic facilities.
Initiative process availability
An initiative process is not mentioned explicitly, but seems to be prohibited by Kentucky Revised Statute Section 83A.120 below. The process for referendum is allowed, but is restricted to the limited issues which are established in Section 60 of the Constitution below.
Rules restricting the use of direct democracy are found in:
Petitions for referenda are treated in:
Initiative process features
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Kentucky|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|Louisville||602,011||Consolidated city-county||No I&R|
|Lexington||301,569||Charter as urban county government||11/5/2013|
|Bowling Green||58,894||General law||No I&R|
|Owensboro||57,605||General law||No I&R|
|Covington||40,811||General law||No I&R|
|Richmond||31,809||General law||No I&R|
|Hopkinsville||31,419||General law||No I&R|
|Florence||30,687||General law||No I&R|
|Georgetown||29,690||General law||No I&R|
|Elizabethtown||29,044||General law||No I&R|
Lexington is the only local government in Kentucky with an initiative process for local ballot measures. See law: Lexington-Fayette Charter, Art. 14
- Kentucky League of Cities
- Kentucky State Statutes
- Attorney General Opinion on Initiative and Referendum Powers in Kentucky
- ↑ Kentucky League of Cities, 2012 Classification of Cities Document
- ↑ Kentucky Revised Statute 82.082
- ↑ Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- ↑ Kentucky League of Cities, Merger Options for Kentucky Local Governments
- ↑ The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- ↑ Kentucky Revised Statutes 83A.120
- ↑ US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- ↑ Fayette County Elections
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011