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Legislative Process

How is a piece of legislation introduced to the City Council?

A bill that is going to be considered by the City Council is first published in a Letter of Introduction. The Letter of Introduction is the first legislative step towards moving the bill through the legislative process. In the Letter of Introduction, the bill receives a reference number and is assigned to a committee. The Letter of Introduction is a formality for the Council. It is not read at the Council meeting and no comment or discussion takes place.

What type of legislation does the City Council have the power to enact?

There are many different types of legislation that the Council considers. The following is a list of the types of legislation that comes before the Council. In parenthesis is the abbreviation used to identify the legislation.

  • Resolution (R) A resolution is a type of legislation that dictates policy for the city. It either mandates or prevents something from occurring. Common situations where resolutions are used are appropriations, preliminary actions on bonds and special assessment districts, adopting budgets and adopting plans.
  • Ordinance (O) An ordinance is the only type of legislation that can create or amend local municipal law. Ordinances are always used for police power legislation - matters where it is criminal not to follow the ordinance. Ordinances are also used to adopt taxes, fees and basic City organizational policies and operational matters.
  • Memorial (M) A memorial is a type of legislation that issues a statement or a position on a specific topic by the Council. It does not create a new law and is not legally binding in any manner. It merely represents a consensus of opinion by the Councilors.
  • Executive Communication (EC) An executive communication is a type of legislation transmitted by the Mayor's office for approval by the Council. Items most often introduced by an Executive Communication include appointments to Boards and Commissions and approval for grants, agreements or contracts by the City.
  • Rules Amendment (RA) This form of legislation is used to change or modify the City Council Rules of Procedure.
  • Other Communication (OC) Legislation that does not conform to any other previously discussed topic is introduced as an Other Communication.

How is a piece of legislation identified, and what do the prefixes mean?

All legislation being considered by the Council is assigned a reference number. Take for example the Abandoned/Inoperable Vehicle bill, O-03-88. The reference number to this bill is made up of 3 components:

  1. Legislation always begins with a letter. In this case the first section of the reference number is the letter "O". This signifies that this bill is an Ordinance.
  2. The second portion of the reference number is the last two digits of the year in which the legislation was introduced. In this case the the bill was introduced in 2003.
  3. Finally, the last series of numbers is a numerical representation of the number of types of bills introduced for that year. In simple terms, the Abandoned/Inoperable Vehicle bill was the 88th ordinance introduced in 2003.