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Petition falls short of signatures

LIHUE — The signature drive to increase thresholds has come up short.

The Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s petition, aimed at quadrupling the number of signatures required to put a proposed amendment to the Kauai County Charter to a public vote, died when it failed to earn enough signatures before the July 2 deadline.

The petition sought to increase the required number of autographs to 20 percent of registered voters. It needed 5 percent to sign their petition — the current threshold they were trying to change —but missed out.

“Unfortunately, we did not reach the required number of signatures as we ran out of time,” said Randy Francisco, the chamber’s president and CEO.

Francisco did not respond to The Garden Island when asked how many signatures the chamber was able to gather, or whether it planned to move forward with the proposal next year. The chamber had said the 5 percent mark was simply too low and that it shouldn’t be easier to change the charter than pass a law or ordinance. 

With its petition, the chamber was hoping to succeed where the county Charter Review Commission did not. 

In April, Commission Vice Chair Jan TenBruggencate introduced the same proposal. He said changing the charter — the basic organizational document of county government — should be harder, or equally as hard, as passing a law.

His proposal was ultimately rejected by the commission last month.

Right now, petitions signed by 5 percent (2,037) of registered voters in the previous election are required to get charter amendments on the ballot, while referendums and initiatives require 20 percent (8,148 signatures).

A second proposal at the commission level to reduce the number of signatures for initiatives and referendums from 20 to 5 percent was also rejected by a split vote in June.

An initiative, according to the charter, is  “the power of voters to propose ordinances.” Referendums are defined as “the power of the voters to approve or reject ordinances that have been passed by the County Council.” And charter amendments are specific changes to the county’s governing document.


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