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Sponsors: Senator McConnell
Document Path: l:\s-jud\bills\mcconnell\jud0142.gfm.doc
Introduced in the Senate on April 21, 2004
Currently residing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary
Summary: County government, manner in which council members elected
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Date Body Action Description with journal page number ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4/21/2004 Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-34 4/21/2004 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary SJ-34
View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site
VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
TO AMEND SECTION 4-9-10, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO REFERENDUMS TO DETERMINE THE FORM OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS OF COUNTY COUNCILS MAY BE ELECTED ALL FROM SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS, ALL FROM AT LARGE DISTRICTS, OR WITH A MAJORITY FROM DEFINED SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS AND THE REMAINING MEMBERS ELECTED AT LARGE AND TO SPECIFY THAT A REFERENDUM PROPOSING A CHANGE IN THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT OR METHOD OF ELECTION NEED NOT INCLUDE THE EXISTING FORM OR METHOD AS AN OPTION FOR VOTERS IF THE FORM OR METHOD HAS BEEN DECLARED UNLAWFUL BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION; AND TO AMEND SECTION 4-9-90, RELATING TO ELECTION OF COUNCIL MEMBERS, SO AS TO MAKE CONFORMING AND CLARIFYING CHANGES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 4-9-10(a) and (c) of the 1976 Code are amended to read:
"(a) Each county, after at least two public hearings which shall have been advertised in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and wherein the alternate forms of government provided for in this chapter are explained by the legislative delegation of the county, may prior to July 1, 1976, conduct a referendum to determine the wishes of the qualified electors as to the form of government to be selected or become subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. The referendum may be called by an act of the General Assembly, resolution of the governing body, or upon petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors of the county. The referendum shall be conducted by the county election commission. The question submitted shall be framed by the authority calling for the referendum and when called by petition such petition shall state the question to be proposed. All alternate forms of government provided for in this chapter shall appear on the ballot and unless one form receives a majority favorable vote in the initial referendum, a second or runoff referendum shall be held two weeks after the first referendum at which time the two forms which received the highest number of votes shall again be submitted to the qualified electors for final selection of the form to be adopted. A referendum may also be called to determine the wishes of the registered electors as to the question of whether the members of the governing body of the county shall be elected: (1) all from defined single-member election districts; (2) all at large from the county; or (3) a majority from defined single-member districts and the remaining members at large from the county. Such referendum may be called by an act of the General Assembly, resolution of the governing body of the county, or by petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors. The governing body shall by resolution provide for adoption of the form of government selected in the referendum, which shall be filed in the
office Office of the Secretary of State and be effective immediately upon such filing. All resolutions which adopt a form of county government shall be printed in the Code of Laws of South Carolina and remain a part thereof until amended or repealed. The General Assembly shall provide for the number of councilmen or commissioners. In the event that the members of the governing body are required to be elected from defined single-member election districts, the General Assembly shall provide for the composition of such these districts.
(c) After the initial form of government and the number and method of election of county council including the chairman has been adopted and selected, the adopted form, number, and method of election shall not be changed for a period of two years from the date
such that form becomes effective and then only as a result of a referendum as hereinafter provided for. Referendums may be called by the governing body or upon petition of not less than ten percent of the registered electors of the county. Petitions shall be certified as valid or rejected by the county board of registration within sixty days after they have been delivered to the board and, if certified, shall be filed with the governing body which shall provide for a referendum not more than ninety days thereafter. If more than one petition is filed within the time allowed for such that filing, the petition bearing the largest number of signatures of registered electors shall be the proposal presented, in the manner set forth hereinafter. Referendums shall be conducted by the county election commissioner and may be held in a general election or in a special election as determined by the governing body. No change to an alternate form of government, different number of council members, or method of election of council including the chairman as a result of a referendum shall become effective unless such that proposed form receives a favorable vote of a majority of those persons voting in a referendum. In any referendum, the question voted upon, whether it be to change the form of government, number of council members, or methods of election, shall give the qualified electors an alternative to retain the existing form of government, number of council members, or method of election or change to one other designated form, number, or method of election except in cases where a court of competent jurisdiction has declared the existing form of government or method of election unlawful and not in compliance with state or federal law. After a referendum has been held and whether or not a change in the form results therefrom, no additional referendums shall be held for a period of four years.
If the governing body of the county as initially or subsequently established pursuant to a referendum or otherwise shall be declared to be
illegal unlawful and not in compliance with state and federal law by a court of competent jurisdiction, the General Assembly shall have the right to prescribe the form of government, the method of election, and the number and terms of council members but may submit to the qualified electors by referendum a question as to their wishes with respect to any element thereof which question shall include as an option the method of election in effect at the time of the referendum except in cases where a court of competent jurisdiction has declared the method of election illegal and not in compliance with state or federal law."
SECTION 2. Section 4-9-90 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 4-9-90. Council members must be elected from defined single-member election districts unless otherwise determined under the provisions of subsection (a), (b), or (c) of Section 4-9-10 or under the provisions of any plan ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction
prior to May 1, 1986. In the event the members of the governing body are required to be elected from defined single-member election districts, they must be elected by the qualified electors of the district in which they reside. All districts must be reapportioned as to population by the county council within a reasonable time prior to the next scheduled general election which follows the adoption by the State of each federal decennial census. The population variance between defined election districts shall not exceed ten percent.
Members of the governing body of the county shall be elected in the general election for terms of two years or four years as the General Assembly may determine for each county commencing on the second of January next following their election. Vacancies on the governing body shall be filled in the manner of original election for the unexpired terms in the next general election after the vacancy occurs or by special election if the vacancy occurs one hundred eighty days or more prior to the next general election.
In those counties where the members are elected for four-year terms,
such these terms shall be staggered. If necessary, in the initial election for members one-half plus one of the members elected who receive the highest number of votes shall serve terms of four years and the remaining members elected shall initially serve terms of two years only. In those counties in which the chairman of the governing body was elected at large as a separate office prior to the adoption of one of the alternate forms of government provided for in this chapter, the chairman shall continue to be so elected.
In any county in which terms of county council members are for two years only, the council may by ordinance change
such these terms to four-year staggered terms but such this ordinance shall not become effective until approved by a favorable vote of the qualified electors of the county voting in a referendum conducted for that purpose. In the event the referendum is conducted at the time of the general election in which council members are elected, and the vote is favorable on the ordinance, the terms of council members shall automatically be changed to four-year terms except that of those elected in that general election one half plus one of such those members who receive the highest vote shall serve four-year terms and the remaining members elected shall serve terms of two years only.
Any council member who is serving a four-year term in a district that has been reapportioned and whose term does not expire until two years after reapportionment becomes effective shall be allowed to continue to serve the balance of his unexpired term representing the people in the new reapportioned district if he is an elector in
such that reapportioned district. In the event that two or more council members, because of reapportionment, become electors in the same district, an election shall then be required. Provided, however, that However, if any seat should become vacant after election districts have been reapportioned but prior to the expiration of the incumbent's term of office due to death, resignation, removal, or any other cause, the resulting vacancy shall be filled under the new reapportionment plan in the manner provided by law for the district that has the same district number as the district from which the council member whose office is vacant was elected. For the purpose of this section, a council member will be deemed considered a resident of the district he represents as long as he resides in any part of the district as constituted at the time of his election."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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