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Laws governing local ballot measures in Mississippi

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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Some Mississippi local governments have an initiative process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Mississippi. 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 Mississippi consists of:

  • Counties. Mississippi is divided up into Counties by Mississippi State Statute Title 19 Ch. 1. No counties can have charters.
  • Cities. Any municipality with a population of 2,000 or greater is classified as a city by State Law.
  • Towns. Any municipality with a population of lower than 2,000 but not less than 300 is classified as a town.
  • Village. To be incorporated as a municipality a community must have a population of at least 100. If it has a population of greater than 100 but less than 300, it is classified as a village.[1]
  • In addition, there are 448 special districts and 164 independent school districts.[2]

All municipalities have charters but most are code charters or general law. Only a few municipalities operating under a private or Home rule charter remain.[1] There are 82 counties and 297 municipalities in Mississippi. Out of the 297 cities, towns and villages 20 have private or home rule charters and most of these are cities. There is no longer a provision allowing for the adopting of a private charter. Any municipality that has a private charter only has it because it never switched to a code charter.[3]

School Districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Mississippi

Mississippi is one of nine states along with the District of Columbia that does not require elections involving school bonds and taxes. All capital improvements for public schools are funded by the Mississippi Public School Building Fund through loans, which have an upper limit dependent upon daily attendance. The Mississippi Legislature makes all appropriations to the fund when the state budget is deliberated on. All bond issues are approved by the Mississippi Bond Commission. Mississippi is limited on issuing bonds to $100 million dollars at one time. It is up to the commission to issue bonds within the $100 million dollar limit. All bonds are capped at seven percent interest with a twenty year maturity.

Initiative process availability

Initiative is available for amendments to code and private charters under Mississippi Code Section 21-17-11 and 13. A private charter may vary from the statute requirements.

State law does not grant initiative for ordinances, and municipalities do not appear to have authority to adopt initiative for ordinances on their own.[3][4]

The 20 cities with private charters are:

Port Gibson, Rosedale, Okolona, Water Valley, Fulton, Carthage, Aberdeen, Louisville, Waveland, Indianola, West Point, Yazoo City, McComb, Corinth, Grenada, Natchez, Horn Lake, Columbus, Vicksburg, and Greenville.

The remaining cities operate under a code charter.[1]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

There is no mention of the powers of initiative and referendum for local government units in the Mississippi Constitution.

Statutes

"§ 21-17-11. Amendment of municipal charter at behest of electorate: It shall be lawful for any number, not less than twenty percent (20%) of the qualified electors of any municipality, by petition, to propose an amendment or amendments to the charter of such municipality not in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States, or the Constitution of this state. The said amendment or amendments shall be published for three (3) weeks prior to a special election in a newspaper published in the municipality, if there be one, and if not, by posting for said time in at least three (3) public places therein. The publication of the amendment or amendments may be made as provided in Section 21-17-19. If such election results in favor of any such amendment or amendments, then the amendment or amendments shall be submitted to the Governor, as is provided in Section 21-17-9, and the procedure therein outlined shall be followed, except that it shall not be necessary to republish such amendment or amendments, or resubmit such amendment or amendments for approval of the qualified electors."

"§ 21-17-13. Applicability of particular sections: The provisions of Sections 21-17-9 and 21-17-11, shall be applicable to all municipalities of this state, whether operating under a code charter, special charter, or the commission form of government, except in cases of conflict between the provisions of such sections and the provisions of the special charter of a municipality, or the law governing the commission form of government, in which cases of conflict the provisions of the special charter or the statutes relative to the commission form of government shall control."[5]

Initiative process features

A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

A petition and election for the amendment of a private municipal charter in Mississippi requires:

  • Signatures equal to 20% of qualified electors.
  • Publication of the proposed amendment for three weeks prior to the special election.
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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 Mississippi
City[6] Population City Type Next election
Jackson 175,561 General law N/A
Gulfport 69,220 General law N/A
Southaven 49,831 General law N/A
Hattiesburg 46,626 General law N/A
Biloxi 44,940 General law N/A
Meridian 41,258 General law N/A
Tupelo 35,059 General law N/A
Olive Branch 34,068 General law N/A
Greenville 33,908 Private charter N/A
Horn Lake 26,519 Private charter N/A

No additional individual city provisions for initiative or referendum were found in the top 10 most populous cities beyond the amendment process given by state law and outlined above.

External links

References