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Citizen initiatives could face legal review early in process

Wed., July 10, 2013, 2:17 p.m.

Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart announced Wednesday proposed reforms to the citizens initiative process.

Standing side by side in the Chase Gallery at City Hall, the two said they were proposing adding a “quasi-judicial” review of initiatives by the city’s hearing examiner after the initiatives are filed with the city but before signatures are gathered.

“The point of this is to be more efficient and provide information to voters early on” in the process, Condon said.

An initiative can move on to signature-gathering even if the hearing examiner says it’s illegal, but the extra scrutiny will give sponsors an idea whether the measure might be stopped later, by the council or Superior Court.

By adding the legal review by the hearing examiner, Stuckart said the process would not be affected by politics, and there would be “no taint.”

Stuckart will sponsor an ordinance to amend the process, which he said will be voted on July 29.

According to the ordinance, the examiner will have 14 days to issue his opinion.

The new ordinance will not affect the two initiatives already headed to the ballot, the Community Bill of Rights and Voter Bill of Rights.

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