[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Lebanon 11-28-1990 by Ord. No. 48; effective 12-21-1990. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Enactment of ordinances — See Ch. 115.
The purpose of this chapter is to enact procedures to be followed when citizens file initiative petitions pursuant to § C419:23(a), Citizens Binding Initiative, and § C419:23(b), Citizens Nonbinding Initiative, of the City Charter. This chapter shall not apply to the amendment or revision of the City Charter, which shall be done in compliance with the provisions of RSA Chapter 49-B (Home Rule Municipal Charters).
These regulations are adopted pursuant to the authority vested in City Councils under the police power and under the provisions set forth in RSA 44:3, which permit the City Council to administer the prudential and municipal affairs of the city.
Prior to filing any initiative petition, an application must be filed by at least five citizens who are registered voters in the city requesting that they constitute a Petitioners' Committee.
No less than five citizens may serve on the Petitioners' Committee, but more than five may serve upon request.
Members of the Petitioners' Committee shall sign an affidavit certifying that they are qualified voters in the City of Lebanon, that they have read and understand the instructions furnished by the City Clerk for circulating initiative petitions and agree to abide by these instructions, and that they will circulate and obtain signatures on the petitions of only registered voters within the city. In addition, the affidavit shall include the name and address of the Chairperson of the Petitioners' Committee to whom all notices to the Committee shall be sent.
Applications requesting the establishment of a Petitioners' Committee for the purpose of filing an initiative petition may be filed only between September 1 and October 31 of any year for the municipal election to be held on the second Tuesday of March of the following year.
In addition to the application and affidavit, before a Petitioners' Committee application can be accepted, the Committee must file with the City Clerk a sample question which it proposes to become the subject of the initiative procedure.
Explanation of question. The sample question shall include a brief statement of explanation as to what is the effect of the question. The brief statement explanation or a synopsis thereof shall appear along with the question on the ballot.
Legal review. The City Clerk shall within two working days of receiving the sample question and explanation submit both to the Attorney for the city for review and comment with regard to whether or not the sample question and explanation are sufficiently clear and are in the appropriate form.
The legal review shall be in writing and delivered to the Clerk within 10 working days.
The Clerk shall within two working days thereafter provide a copy of the legal comments to the Petitioners' Committee.
The Petitioners' Committee will have the option of accepting or declining the recommendations and suggestions of the Attorney for the city, but must indicate in writing to the Clerk its decision within two working days.
Minor textual changes. After the filing of the question, the substantive language of the question will not be changed except upon a petition for a new Petitioners' Committee being filed. Notwithstanding, the City Clerk may make such minor textual changes to the question as may be required to clarify the question, provided that the Petitioners' Committee first has an opportunity to review and accept the proposed textual change.
The petition forms shall be prepared by the City Clerk and returned to the Petitioners' Committee within five working days of the date on which the Clerk receives written notification from the Petitioners' Committee as to whether it has accepted or declined the written recommendations of the Attorney for the city. The petitions shall bear a number in the upper right-hand section. Each petition given out shall be numbered consecutively. Each member of the Petitioners' Committee shall be responsible for the numbered petitions which they are given. All persons signing the petition shall give their address and ward. Failure to provide this information may result in a signature on the petition being disqualified.
The Petitioners' Committee may appoint additional individuals who are registered voters of the city to circulate a petition, provided that the names of these individuals and their addresses are furnished to the City Clerk prior to their circulating a petition.
When the names and addresses of these individual circulators are given to the City Clerk, the City Clerk shall within seven working days verify that the individuals are registered voters of the city and issue a letter of authority indicating that the additional individuals may circulate and obtain names on the initiative petition.
All initiative petitions, including those not used, shall be filed with the City Clerk not later than December 21 of any year for a question which is to appear on the ballot at the annual municipal election held on the second Tuesday of March of the following year.
Within five working days after the filing of the petitions by the Petitioners' Committee, the City Clerk shall certify or refuse to certify in writing that the requisite number of signatures of voters necessary to comply with the provisions of §§ C419:23(a) and C419:23(b) of the City Charter have been obtained.
The Clerk shall deliver a copy of the certificate or the refusal to certify to the Petitioners' Committee within the five-working-day period.
If the City Clerk refuses to certify the petition, the Petitioners' Committee or any member of the Petitioners' Committee may appeal the City Clerk's ruling to the City Council within two working days of the receipt of the written refusal to certify.
Within 14 days after an appeal is filed with the City Council by the Petitioners' Committee, the City Council shall hold a public hearing, with seven days notice by publication, on such appeal and shall decide whether or not to certify the petition.
All parties shall be given an opportunity to present evidence to the City Council at the hearing.
The City Council's decision on this issue shall be final, and there shall be no further appeal available to the objecting party, except as may be permitted by law.
If the City Clerk determines that the requisite number of signatures has been obtained on a petition, the City Clerk shall cause the initiative petition to be placed on the agenda for a City Council meeting to be held within 14 days of that determination.
At the City Council meeting referred to in Subsection A above, the City Clerk shall deliver the certification to the Council that all requirements of this chapter and of the Charter have been met. Within 20 days from the date of receipt of the City Clerk's certification at such Council meeting, the City Council shall schedule and hold a public hearing, with seven days' notice, and shall decide whether or not to pass the initiative without alteration.
If the City Council decides not to pass the initiative, or decides to pass the initiative but with substantive alterations, or takes no action whatsoever, then the City Council shall cause the original certified initiative petition question and the brief explanation or synopsis to be placed on the ballot at the next municipal election.
If a majority of the qualified voters voting on any proposed question shall vote in favor thereof, the amendment by initiative shall become effective on the first day of the succeeding municipal year.