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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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S.98

Introduced by   Senator Condos of Chittenden District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Municipal government; charters; amendments; legislative approval

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to allow municipalities to amend their charters, adopt new charters, and repeal their charters without the approval of the general assembly, unless the attorney general, six senators, or 30 representatives of the house petition for legislative approval.

AN ACT RELATING TO LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF MUNICIPAL CHARTER AMENDMENTS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2645 is amended to read:

§ 2645.  CHARTERS, AMENDMENT, PROCEDURE

(a)  In the exercise of its subsisting patronage and control of municipal corporations under Article II, §§ 6 and 69 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont, the general assembly hereby establishes a procedure whereby cities, towns, and villages may exercise such powers and perform such functions relating to their respective governance and affairs which are not expressly prohibited by the Vermont constitution, the general law of the state, or common law.

(b)  A municipality may propose to the general assembly to amend or repeal its charter or adopt a new charter by majority vote of the legal voters of the municipality present and voting at any annual or special meeting warned for that purpose in accordance with the following procedure:

(1)  A proposal to adopt, repeal, or amend a municipal charter may be made by the legislative body of the municipality or by petition of five percent of the voters of the municipality.

(2)  An official copy of the proposed charter amendments shall be filed as a public record in the office of the clerk of the municipality at least ten days before the first public hearing, and copies thereof shall be made available to members of the public upon request.

(3)  The legislative body of the municipality shall hold at least two public hearings prior to the vote on the proposed charter amendments.  The first public hearing shall be held at least 30 days before the annual or special meeting.

(4)  If the charter proposals to amend the charter are made by the legislative body, the legislative body may revise the amendments as a result of suggestions and recommendations made at a public hearing, but in no event shall such revisions be made less than 20 days before the date of the meeting.  If revisions are made, the legislative body shall post a notice of these revisions in the same places as the warning for the meeting not less than 20 days before the date of the meeting and shall attach such revisions to the official copy kept on file for public inspection in the office of the clerk of the municipality.

(5)  If the charter proposals to amend the charter are made by petition, the second public hearing shall be held no later than ten days after the first public hearing.  The legislative body shall not have the authority to revise charter proposals to amend the charter made by petition.  After the warning and hearing requirements of this section are satisfied, proposals by petition shall be submitted to the voters at the next annual meeting, primary, or general election in the form in which they were filed, except that the legislative body may make technical corrections.

(6)  Notice of the public hearings and of the annual or special meeting shall be given in the same way and time as for annual meetings of the municipality.  Such notice shall specify the sections to be adopted, repealed, or amended, setting out sections to be amended in the amended in the proposed form, with deleted matter in brackets and new matter underlined or in italics.  If the legislative body of the municipality determines that the proposed charter amendments charter proposals are too long or unwieldy to set out in amended the proposed form, the notice shall include a concise summary of the proposed charter amendments charter proposals and shall state that an official copy of the proposed charter amendments charter proposals is on file for public inspection in the office of the clerk of the municipality and that copies thereof shall be made available to members of the public upon request.

(7)  Voting on charter amendments proposals shall be by Australian ballot.  The ballot shall show each section to be adopted, repealed, or amended in the amended proposed form, with deleted matter in brackets and new matter underlined or in italics and shall permit the voter to vote on each proposal of adoption, repeal, or amendment separately.  If the legislative body determines that the proposed charter amendments charter proposals are too long or unwieldy to be shown in the amended proposed form, an official copy of the proposed charter amendments charter proposals shall be maintained conspicuously in each ballot booth for inspection by the voters during the balloting, and voters shall be permitted to vote upon the charter amendments proposals in their entirety in the form of a yes or no proposition.

(b)(c)  The clerk of the municipality, under the direction of the legislative body, shall announce and post the results of the vote immediately after the vote is counted.  The clerk, within 10 days after the day of the election, shall certify to the secretary of state each proposal of amendment showing the facts as to its origin and the procedure followed.

(c)(d)  The secretary of state shall file the certificate and deliver copies of it to the attorney general and clerk of the house of representatives, the secretary of the senate, and the chairman of the committees concerned with municipal charters of both houses of the general assembly immediately if it is then in biennial session and, if not in session, within 10 days of its organization at the biennial session.

(e)  The secretary of the senate and the clerk of the house shall each publish a notice of each charter proposal that has been submitted to them in the calendars of their respective chambers within five days of their receipt.  The notices shall be published in the calendars for 15 successive legislative days.

(d)(f)  The amendment, new charter, or repeal of the charter of a municipality shall become effective upon affirmative enactment of the proposal, either as proposed or as amended by the general assembly.  A proposal for a charter amendment may be enacted by reference to the amendment as approved by the voters of the municipality at the expiration of 30 days after the first day that the notice required under subsection (e) of this section is published in the calendars, provided no petition is filed under subsection (g) of this section.

(g)  The attorney general or not fewer than six senators or not fewer than 30 members of the house of representatives may file a petition for legislative approval of an amendment to, the adoption of, or the repeal of a charter of a municipality.  A petition submitted by the attorney general must include a statement indicating that the attorney general believes that the charter proposal violates the Vermont constitution.  A petition submitted by the appropriate number of senators or representatives must include a statement indicating that the signers believe that the charter proposal has significant statewide ramifications.  The petition shall be filed with the clerk of the municipality and with the clerk of the house of representatives or the secretary of the senate within 30 days after the first day that the notice required under subsection (e) of this section is published in the calendars.

(h)  If a petition is submitted pursuant to subsection (g) of this section, the charter proposal shall take effect only upon its approval by enactment into law by the general assembly.

(i)  If the general assembly adjourns fewer than 30 days after the first day that the notice required under subsection (e) of this section is published in the calendars, the charter proposal shall become effective 30 days after the date of convening the next regular or adjourned session, unless a petition is submitted pursuant to subsection (g) of this section within 30 days of convening.  The general assembly may specifically approve a charter proposal at any time after its receipt and regardless of when it is received.  Any proposal specifically approved shall become effective on the date of approval.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us