Laws governing local ballot measures in Missouri
|Preamble • I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII|
- 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.
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 (numbers as of 2007)
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|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
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.
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.
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.
- 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
Initiative process availability
The availability of initiative varies depending upon the classification, form of government, and home rule status of a city or county.
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
- 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.
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. 
- Missouri Constitution, Article VI, Section 19 - constitutional charter adoption, home rule powers
- Missouri Constitution, Article VI, Section 20 - amendment to constitutional charter through initiative
- Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 81.013- special legislative charter amendment through initiative See law: 81.013
- Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 78.200, 210, 240, 270- initiative in commission cities See law: 78.200 Chap. 78
- Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 78.573, 575- initiative in council-manager cities See law: 78.573 78.575
Initiative process features
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
Third Class Cities
Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Missouri|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|St. Louis||318,069||Charter||March 5, 2013 (Primary)|
|St. Peters||53,264||General law|
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.
- ↑ The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- ↑ Missouri Municipal League, Forms of Government for Missouri Municipalities
- ↑ Crystal City, Missouri Comprehensive Plan Update
- ↑ http://www.stlouisco.com, St. Louis County Charter
- ↑ www.jacksongov.org, Jackson County Charter
- ↑ www.sccmo.org, St. Charles County Charter
- ↑ www.jeffcomo.org, Jefferson County Charter
- ↑ Rexroat v. City of Poplar Bluff, Case No. 1: 11CV00224 SNLJ(E.D. Mo., Jan. 27, 2012)
- ↑ Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local governments by state
- ↑ US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- ↑ St. Louis Post Dispatch "Table set for three-way St. Louis mayoral battle," January 4, 2013
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Missouri: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011