No workshop on charter amendments, initiatives

LIHUE — The Charter Review Commission opted not to host a public educational workshop on the different types of citizen proposals, a request made by Kauai County Council Chair Jay Furfaro.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Commissioner Patrick Stack said if the council wants to educate the public about charter amendments, initiatives and referendums, it can. However, he felt that is not the commission’s role.

“Not our kuleana,” he said. “It’s the kuleana of the council, and they certainly have the funds.”

In an Aug. 1 letter, Furfaro requested the commission work with the Office of the Count Attorney to host a workshop on the issue. He even offered to pay for the workshop using part of the council’s budget.

Last month, the council rejected a charter amendment proposed by Kauai Rising aimed at regulating the island’s genetically modified crop industry and placing the burden on the agrochemical companies to prove their practices are safe. Several council members said they could not vote to receive the proposal because it was clear it was not a charter amendment at all, but rather an initiative, and would likely end up in court.

“After experiencing firsthand the confusion that surrounded the Kauai Rising Charter Amendment process, for the public’s perspective, I am disappointed that the Charter Review Commission did not vote to pursue an educational workshop, so that the public could better understand the difference between a Charter Amendment and Initiative,” Furfaro said in a statement Tuesday.

The types of citizen initiatives require a different number of signatures to put each one to a vote. While it takes only 5 percent of registered voters to petition a charter amendment, 20 percent is required to put forth an ordinance or referendum. The difference is 2,037 signatures versus 8,147.

An initiative, according to the County Charter, is “the power of voters to propose ordinances” in the elections process. Referendums, on the other hand, are defined in the County Charter as “the power of the voters to approve or reject ordinances that have been passed by the County Council.”

Also during Monday’s regular meeting, the commission voted 4-1 to approve a proposed charter amendment for the 2016 general election ballot.

The proposal would require voter petition charter amendments to be presented to the county clerk instead of the council.

Commission Vice Chair Jan TenBruggencate case the lone dissenting vote.

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