Frequently Asked Questions
What is chartered government?
A chartered city, county or, municipality is one that possesses a unique set of laws that forms the legal foundation of its local system of government. Under a chartered form of government, the charter defines the powers and functions of elected officials as well as the organization and procedures of local government. Basically, a charter means that the county itself defines its structure and system of governance, subject only to general compliance with State law. This approach assumes that government issues should be solved at the level closest to the people.
What would the Constitution contain?
The Constitution would establish a new government structure and system for Clay County and its citizens. The specifics of the Constitution would be up to the Constitution Commission, which is described below, as well as the general voting public. Among the provisions that could be included in the proposed Constitution are the number of County Legislative members and/or a County executive official, their terms and how they are elected; duties of specific staff members; citizens’ right to initiative, recall and/or referendum; the County’s right to annex, tax and provide safety for its citizens; and procedures and ethics.
How does this differ from what Clay County has now?
Under the current governmental structure, Clay County is restricted to doing what State law directs or permits the County to do. As a constitutional charter county, Clay County citizens would have the power of self-government. Clay County is one of the largest first-class counties in the State of Missouri that continues to have a Commission-style (non-charter) form of government. A Constitutional Charter form of government would provide the flexibility necessary to address the complexity of local government and the wishes of the citizens of Clay County.
What is the first step to voter input in this process?
The Clay County Commission, during its last public meeting, came to a consensus to appoint a 12-member Constitution Committee made up of citizens of Clay County. This Constitution Committee, if adopted by majority vote of the Commission, would begin the process of seeking public input and developing recommendations from Clay County residents regarding the Constitution form of government. Next, the Commission would need to authorize the Clay County Election Board to place a question on the April 7, 2020, ballot as to whether the voters of Clay County desire to approve the appointment of a Constitution Commission, as described below. This is when voters will have the first opportunity to tell Clay County if they wish to change their form of government.
What would the Constitution Committee do?
The Constitution Committee’s role would be to research and discuss suggested features for a Constitution, solicit public input regarding a Constitution, and provide their findings and recommendations to the public.
Who can serve on the Constitution Committee?
Potential candidates should submit applications to serve on this committee through our online application form. The Commission has proposed that members of the Constitution Committee have taxes paid in full and be a citizen of Clay County. The committee would be comprised of self-nominated citizens, appointed by the Clay County Commission. If you would like to serve on the Constitution Committee, please submit your application here.
What happens if voters approve the appointment of a Constitution Commission?
If a majority of voters in Clay County approve the appointment of a Constitution Commission during the April 7, 2020 election, the 7th Circuit Court judges shall be charged with appointing 14 residents of Clay County, equally divided between the two parties casting the most votes in the last preceding gubernatorial election (Republican and Democrat), to draft a proposed Constitution (RSMo 66.703). This group of 14 residents would comprise the Constitution Commission, not to be confused with the Constitution Committee described above. The Circuit Court judges would be required to appoint the members of the Constitution Commission within 60 days after the Clay County Election Board certifies the results of the April 7, 2020 election.
What would the Constitution Commission do?
The members of the Constitution Commission would be charged with drafting a County Constitution, which document would be need to be submitted to the voters of Clay County for approval or disapproval within one year of the date the Constitution Commission is formed. If approved, the Constitution would go into effect in Clay County on the date specified in the Constitution itself.
Who would write the proposed Constitution?
The Constitution Commission, appointed by the 7th Circuit Court judges, would be responsible for writing the Constitution to be presented to the voters of Clay County.
What is the difference between the Constitution Committee and the Constitution Commission?
The Constitution Committee is a group of citizens appointed by the Clay County Commission to research and discuss suggested features for a Constitution, solicit public input, and provide their findings and recommendations to the public. The Constitution Committee is not a requirement under State law, but is instead an advisory committee being created by the Clay County Commission. The Constitution Commission is governed by State law, and while also made up of citizens of Clay County, is to be appointed by 7th Circuit Court judges. The Constitution Commission will not be appointed unless the voters of Clay County first approve the creation of the Constitution Commission during the April 7, 2020 election. The Constitution Commission will be charged with drafting a proposed Constitution that will be presented to the voters of Clay County for approval or disapproval.
What information is available on the Constitution website?
On the Clay County Constitution website you will be able to access any current draft of the Constitution, all previous versions voted on by the citizens of Clay County, and any public reports created by the Constitution Committee. The website will also contain a link to the Constitution Committee application and contact information for the Clay County Commissioners and the Clay County Public Services Team.