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Council to Weigh In Referendum Requirements for Charter Amendments

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the City Council will consider approving a letter of support for HB 682, Municipalities- Charter Amendments -Referendum and Signatures Required for Petitions.

HB 682 would allow the City Council to submit to the voters a proposed charter amendment for a binding vote; and would allow the Council to lower from 20% to no lower than 5% the required percentage of qualified voters necessary to petition a proposed charter amendment to a referendum or to initiate a proposed charter amendment.

The State Constitution sets the minimum threshold for citizen petitions at five percent. In 1955 a statute increased the percentage to 20 percent, which is current law.

In College Park, the voter rolls include many people (particularly former students) who have moved away from the City but have not changed their voter registration. Therefore, the 20 percent requirement becomes a much higher actual percentage of voters who currently live in the City and are available to sign a petition.

HB 682 would allow municipalities to lower the required percentage. It would also allow municipalities to send charter amendments to the voters for a binding referendum. The bill sponsors include Delegates Peiia-Melnyk, Barnes, and Frush.

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