Article 7 Initiative and Referendum

Section 7.1 Direct government

The people of Clark County reserve the power to make certain proposals at their option and to approve or reject them at the polls, independent of the council.


Section 7.2 Initiative

The people reserve the power of initiative. An ordinance or amendment to an ordinance, except as limited by state or federal law or court interpretation, may be proposed by filing an initiative petition with the auditor. No ordinance enacted as a result of initiative shall be amended or repealed within two (2) years after enactment, except as a result of a subsequent initiative or referendum or as required by state or federal law.

  1.  Initiative Limitations. The following are limited by state or federal law or court interpretations and may not be proposed or adopted by initiative.
    1. Ordinances providing for compensation or working conditions of county employees or elected officials.
    2. Redistricting council districts.
    3. Authorizing or repealing an appropriation of money or any portion of the annual budget.
    4. Authorizing or repealing taxes or fees.
    5. Authorizing or repealing any provision of a service or program provided by the county.
    6. 6. Amending or repealing this charter.
  2. Initiative Requirements.
    1. Initiatives that require new or additional sources of revenue shall include a recommended revenue source adequate to finance the result of the initiative.
  3. Initiative Procedures.
    1. Any registered voter of Clark County may file an initiative proposal with the auditor, who shall transmit a copy to the prosecuting attorney. If the ordinance proposed by initiative would be effective exclusively in unincorporated Clark County, the registered voter must be a registered voter residing in unincorporated Clark County to file the initiative proposal with the auditor. Within ten (10) business days of the filing date, the prosecuting attorney shall formulate a true and impartial ballot title, posed as a positive question not exceeding fifty (50) words.
    2. The prosecuting attorney shall transmit the initiative petition to the auditor, who shall give the proposed initiative a number that will be the identifying number. Within an additional five (5) business days, the auditor shall confer with the petitioner to review and establish the form and style of the initiative petition as required by the auditor or ordinance. Within an additional ten (10) days the prosecuting attorney shall evaluate the petition and provide the petitioner and auditor with the following statement: "In the opinion of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney, the subject of this initiative is within the scope of local initiative powers. Yes [ ] No [ ] No opinion at this time [ ].” The prosecuting attorney shall mark the box that reflects his or her opinion. The petitioner may include this statement on the petition.
      The petitioner shall have one hundred twenty (120) days after receipt of the Prosecuting Attorney’s statement as required in 7.2 C (2)to collect signatures of registered county voters. Valid collected signatures shall number no less than:
    3. a. If the ordinance proposed by the initiative would be effective in both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the County, valid signatures shall number no less than ten (10) percent of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election; or
      b. If the ordinance proposed by the initiative would be effective exclusively in unincorporated areas of the County, valid signatures shall number no less than ten (10) percent of the votes cast in unincorporated Clark County at the last gubernatorial election; provided, however, the registered voters signing the petition must be registered voters residing in unincorporated Clark County and, further provided that, the number of required signatures shall be calculated based only upon votes cast within areas which, on the date the initiative is initiated, are unincorporated areas of the County.
      Each petition shall contain the warning clause prescribed by state law, full text of the proposed measure, ordinance or amendment to an ordinance, and ballot title.
    4. The auditor shall verify the number of signatures on the petition, and, if a sufficient number of valid signatures has been submitted, place the proposal on the ballot for the next general election.
      1. Signatures on the petition must be submitted to the auditor no less than one hundred fifty (150) days before the date of the next general election.
      2. If the council enacts the proposal without change or amendment not less than sixty (60) days prior to said election, the proposal shall be removed from the ballot.
      3. If the council does not adopt the proposed measure but adopts a substitute measure not more than fifteen (15) days after petition validation, the substitute measure shall be placed on the same ballot with the initiative proposal.
      4. If the ordinance proposed by the initiative is one that is effective exclusively in unincorporated areas of the count, only registered voters in unincorporated Clark County shall be permitted to vote on the initiative.
    5. When a ballot contains an initiative petition, substitute measure or multiple initiative measures on the same topic, the voters shall be given the choice of rejecting or accepting each initiative.
      1. If the voters accept more than one (1) initiative on the same topic, and the measures are incompatible, the initiative receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall be approved.
      2. If there are multiple measures on the same topic, compatible with one another, they may all be approved.
      3. If the voters reject all initiatives, none shall be approved.
      4. If the voters approve one (1) initiative and reject the others, the approved initiative shall be approved.

[Amended, Sec. 13, Res. 2021-7, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2021-07-11, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2021-07-12, Nov. 2021]


Section 7.3 Mini-initiative

The people reserve the power of mini-initiative, except as limited by state or federal law and subject to Article 7, Section 2(A). Ordinances or amendments to an existing ordinance may be proposed to the council by transmitting the proposal to the auditor. An initiative petition shall bear signatures of qualified voters totaling no less than three (3) percent of the number of votes cast in the county in the last gubernatorial election. A proposed ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance that would be effective exclusively in unincorporated Clark County, may only be submitted to the auditor by a registered voter residing in unincorporated Clark County; further, that initiative petition must bear the signatures of qualified voters who reside in unincorporated Clark County totaling no less than three (3) percent of the number of votes cast in the unincorporated County in the last gubernatorial election. The number of required signatures shall be calculated based only upon votes cast within areas which, on the date such petitions are filed, are unincorporated areas of the County. The auditor shall have thirty (30) business days to validate signatures. If a sufficient number of signatures is verified, the auditor shall transmit the initiative petition to the county council. The council shall hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance within sixty (60) days, and enact, reject or modify the proposed ordinance within thirty (30) calendar days of the hearing.

[Amended, Sec. 14, Res. 2021-7, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2021-07-11, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2021-07-12, Nov. 2021]


Section 7.4 Referendum

The people reserve the power of referendum. Referendum may be ordered on any ordinance, or any part thereof, passed by the council, except as limited by state or federal law or court interpretations.

  1. Referendum Limitations. The following ordinances are limited by state or federal law or court interpretations and are not subject to referendum:
    1. Emergency ordinances.
    2. Ordinances providing for compensation or working conditions of county employees or elected officials.
    3. Ordinances authorizing or repealing an appropriation of money or any portion of the annual budget.
    4. Ordinances authorizing or repealing taxes or fees.
    5. Ordinances required by state or federal law.
  2. Referendum Procedure. A referendum petition proposal shall be filed with the auditor within ten (10) days after the council passes an ordinance. Except as set forth in this section, a referendum petition proposal may be filed against an ordinance or any portion of an ordinance. Any registered Clark County voter may file with the auditor a referendum petition proposal signed by at least one hundred (100) registered voters of Clark County.
    1. The auditor shall verify signatures on the referendum petition proposal within ten (10) calendar days. After one hundred (100) signatures are validated, the ordinance or portion of the ordinance subject to referendum is suspended until:
      1. Sufficient valid signatures are collected within the time prescribed by this section to place the measure on the ballot and voters have voted on the measure.
      2. Valid signatures are not collected within the time prescribed by this section to place the measure on the ballot.
    2. Filing a referendum petition proposal against a portion of an ordinance shall not delay the remainder of the ordinance from taking effect.
    3. Within five (5) business days of filing the referendum petition, the auditor shall confer with the petitioner to review the referendum petition as to form and style, as required by the auditor or ordinance. The auditor shall give the referendum petition an identifying number and transmit a copy of the referendum petition to the prosecuting attorney and county manager. Within ten (10) business days after receipt, the prosecuting attorney shall write a ballot title not to exceed fifty (50) words and posed as a positive question, which shall express a true and impartial statement of the measure. The prosecuting attorney shall then promptly transmit the referendum petition’s ballot title to the auditor who shall provide it to the petitioner within five (5) business days.
    4. The petitioner shall have one hundred twenty (120) calendar days from the date of delivery of the ballot title as required in 7.2 B (3) to collect signatures of registered Clark County voters. The number of valid signatures collected shall equal no less than:
      a. For an ordinance which is effective exclusively in the unincorporated areas of the county, valid signatures shall number no less than ten (10) percent of the votes cast in unincorporated Clark County at the last gubernatorial election; provided, however, the registered voters signing the petition must be registered voters residing in unincorporated Clark County and, further provided that, the number of required signatures shall be calculated based only upon votes cast within areas which, on the date the referendum is initiated, are unincorporated areas of the county.
      For all other ordinances, the number of valid signatures collected shall equal no less than ten (10) percent of the total votes cast in the county in the last gubernatorial election.
      b. Each petition shall contain the full text of the referred measure and ballot title. The auditor shall verify the number of signatures on the petition and, if valid, submit the measure to voters at the next general election. If the ordinance subject to referendum is one that is effective exclusively in unincorporated areas of the county, only registered voters in unincorporated Clark County shall be permitted to vote on the referendum. Petition signatures must be submitted to the auditor for verification no less than one hundred fifty (150) calendar days before the date of the next general election.

[Amended, Sec. 15, Res. 2021-7, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2021-07-11, Nov. 2021; Ord. 2012-07-12, Nov. 2021]


Section 7 .5 Recall

The people reserve the power of recall, as provided in the constitution and laws of the state of Washington.