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Bills Would Amend Franklin City Charter

January 21, 2012

By Brad Fulton
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The state Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on a bill that would require Franklin City Council members to resign in order to run for mayor, and the House is considering similar legislation.

Senate Bill 311, sponsored by Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, is up for a third and final reading on the Senate’s uncontested calendar. The bill, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday, would make several amendments to the Franklin City Charter.

One amendment states that if a Franklin City Council member wants to run for mayor, “he/she shall be eligible to do so, but shall tender his/her resignation as a member of City Council not fewer than 10 days after filing his/her petition for the office of mayor with such resignation to be effective on June 30 of the election year.”

“Such resignation shall state the Council member’s intention to run for the office of mayor and shall require no formal acceptance by the remaining members of the City Council and shall be final and irrevocable as of the date it is tendered,” according to the proposed charter amendment.

SB 311 also spells out rules for recalling Franklin City Council members or the mayor. Recall supporters would have to gather signatures from at least 15 percent of the voters in the council member’s ward or, in the mayor’s case, 15 percent of the voters citywide.

Moreover, SB 311 says a council member shall forfeit office if he or she violates the city charter; no longer resides in the member’s ward; is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude; or fails to pay all real estate taxes or personal property taxes by Jan. 15 each year.

Two bills nearly identical to SB 311 are pending in the House. They are House Bill 204, introduced by Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, and HB 634, sponsored by Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton.

“We’re basically just upgrading the charter, which has not been changed in some time, to reflect and conform to the charters of some other cities,” Tyler said.

She said the legislation still may be modified. “Delegate Morris and I are working on the final draft of the amendments.”

HB 204 and HB 634 have been referred to the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns. They have been assigned to a subcommittee of that panel.

Under the House and Senate legislation as currently written, the charter amendments would take effect July 1.

The changes would be only the second amendments to the Franklin City Charter since it was enacted in 1962. Last year, the charter was amended to change the length of terms of members of the Franklin School Board.

The General Assembly is considering bills to amend the charters of more than a dozen cities and towns, from Chesapeake and Newport News to Fairfax and Falls Church.

On the Web

To track the bills amending the Franklin City Charter, visit RichmondSunlight.com or the Legislative Information System’s website, http://lis.virginia.gov.