Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Study Commission Continues Work on Home Rule Charter

The Government Study Commission met at the County Courthouse in Lancaster, Tuesday afternoon, to further refine their draft of a Home Rule Charter for Lancaster County.

The members went back and forth on the precise wording of the proposed charter for three full hours, in front of four members of the general public.

The members of the Study Commission preliminarily decided, for example, that, if a Home Rule Charter is passed by the voters in November, there should be no waiting period before it can thereafter be revoked or revised. This was in opposition to the idea that there should be a five year waiting period before allowing the form of government to be changed again.

The members also refined the process whereby initiatives and referendums can be brought forward.

An initiative, under Article VI, Section 6.1 of this draft of the proposed Charter, is a process whereby citizens can place an issue before the Commissioners for their consideration. After entertaining the idea of requiring a certain percentage of voters or residents to have to sign such a petition, the Commission settled on making the requirement, "1,000 signatures of citizens of the County."

The Commission was prepared to make the requirement that it be "registered voters" who must sign an initiative but members John Smucker and Heidi Wheaton expressed concerns about disenfranchisement.

Article VI, Section 6.3 of the proposed Charter deals with the referendum process, which is different. Referendum, as defined here, is the power of the Board of the Commissioners to place questions on the ballot in both primary and general elections.

The Government Study Commission will meet again February 5 and February 12 at 2pm in room 502 of the County Courthouse.

Study Commission Chair Carol Phillips said she hopes to have a complete draft of the Home Rule Charter prepared by the end of the Commission's meeting on February 12.