How the City Council enacts laws
CITY COUNCIL HEARINGS
The City Council chair will send a docket, or item, on the agenda to a committee for review. The committee chair can hold a hearing on the issue. The chair needs to send Notice two days before the hearing to:
- all City councilors
- the press, and
- any interested parties.
The invitation needs to give the date, time, and place where the committee will hold the hearing. Hearings are open to the public. Those most affected by the issue give their testimony. After that, anyone at the hearing can testify in person or give the committee a written testimony.
At the end of the hearing, the chair — with the backing of the majority of the committee — will send a report to the full City Council with its recommendation on the issue. The committee can recommend that the item:
- Ought to Pass
- Ought Not to Pass
- Be Placed on File, or
- is Rejected Without Prejudice.
If the committee doesn’t send a report to the full City Council, the item stays in the committee. The committee chair can ask for another hearing on the issue or send a report to the City Council at a later date.
OUGHT NOT TO PASS
A committee can recommend in their report that a docket Ought Not to Pass. This means the committee thinks the City Council should not approve the item. If a majority of the City Council agrees with the recommendation, the item is rejected.
OUGHT TO PASS
A committee can also recommend in their report that a docket Ought to Pass or Ought to Pass in a New Draft. If a majority of the City Council agrees with the recommendation, the City Council will send the item to the Mayor. If the Mayor approves the item, it becomes law.
THE MAYOR HAS VETO POWER
If after 15 days, the Mayor doesn’t take any action, the item approved by the City Council becomes law, with some exceptions.
If the Mayor vetoes, or rejects, the item:
- The Mayor’s objections will be sent to the City Council through the City Clerk.
- The City Council can make changes to or take action on the item.
- After seven days, the City Council can override the veto if two-thirds of the council votes to approve the docket.
With ordinances, home rule petitions, and so-called 17F orders, there are other consequences. For more information, you can ask for a copy of the Organization of City Government booklet or the Municipal Register. These expand on the workings and rules of the City Council.