What is Public Measure C?
Public Measure C is a proposal to reduce the number of signatures required for a citizen petition in Iowa City.
Iowa City’s current petition process for amending the City Code imposes signature count requirements that are much higher than what’s prescribed by the Iowa Code. Public Measure C brings these requirements in line with Iowa Code § 362.4 as follows (underline denotes additions; strikethrough denotes deletions):
Section 7.03. Petitions; Revocation Of Signatures.
A. Number Of Signatures. Initiative and referendum petitions must be signed by eligible electors equal in number to at least twenty-five percent (25%) ten percent of the number of persons who voted in the last regular city election, but such signatures of eligible electors shall be no fewer than three thousand six hundred ten.
Why is this important?
Essentially, Measure C is about strengthening our right to petition local government.
Citizen initiatives and referendums provide an important “direct democracy” counter-balance to the everyday rule of the City Council.
However, the current process requires petitioners to spend anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500 hours amassing signatures, simply to bring an issue for discussion before the City Council and/or the voters. That’s 6 to 9 months of full-time work. De facto this means that today the only people who can afford to bring up an issue before the Council or the voters are people with deep enough pockets to hire paid staff to collect signatures for them — so much for direct democracy.
Measure C aims to lower this nearly insurmountable barrier to citizen participation in local government by making the City Charter conform to the Iowa Code.