Report Title:

Municipal Corporations



Specifies the procedure to allow communities to incorporate into cities and towns.



H.B. NO.









relating to municipal corporations.



SECTION 1. Currently, article VIII, section 1 of the Hawaii constitution allows for the legislature to create counties and other political subdivisions within the State, and to provide for their government. Although political subdivisions may include municipalities, the state constitution provides no specific mechanism for communities to incorporate into cities and towns. Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to statutorily specify the procedure for the creation of cities, towns, and other municipalities, also known as municipal corporations, that operate under a charter for their own government.

SECTION 2. The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:



-1 Incorporation and organization; classification. Municipal corporations shall be created pursuant to this chapter; provided that the classification of cities and towns shall be in proportion to population.

-2 Charter; preparation and proposal by board of freeholders; ratification and approval; amendment. Any city containing, now or hereafter, a population of more than three thousand five hundred may frame a charter for its own government consistent with, and subject to, the constitution and the laws of the State, in the following manner:

(1) A board of freeholders composed of fourteen qualified electors of the city may be elected at large by the qualified electors thereof, at a general or special election, whose duty it shall be, within ninety days after the election, to prepare and propose a charter for that city;

(2) The proposed charter shall be signed in duplicate by the members of the board, or a majority of them, and filed, one copy of the proposed charter with the chief executive officer of the city and the other with the county clerk of the county in which the city shall be situated;

(3) The proposed charter shall then be published in one or more newspapers published, and of general circulation, within the city for at least twenty-one days if in a daily paper, or in three consecutive issues if in a weekly paper, and the first publication shall be made within twenty days after the completion of the proposed charter;

(4) Within thirty days, and not earlier than twenty days, after the publication, the proposed charter shall be submitted to the vote of the qualified electors of the city at a general or special election. If a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon shall ratify the proposed charter, it shall thereupon be submitted to the governor for the governor's approval, and the governor shall approve it if it shall not be in conflict with the constitution or with the laws of the State;

(5) Upon approval, the charter shall become the organic law of the city and supersede any charter then existing and all amendments thereto, and all ordinances inconsistent with the new charter;

(6) A copy of the charter, certified by the chief executive officer, and authenticated by the seal, of the city, together with a statement similarly certified and authenticated setting forth the submission of the charter to the electors and its ratification by them, after the approval of the charter by the governor, shall be made in duplicate and filed, one copy in the office of the lieutenant governor and the other in the archives of the city after being recorded in the office of the county clerk. Thereafter, all courts shall take judicial notice of that charter; and

(7) The charter so ratified may be amended by amendments proposed and submitted by the legislative authority of the city to the qualified electors thereof (or by petition as hereinafter provided), at a general or special election, and ratified by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon and approved by the governor as provided in this section for the approval of the charter.

-3 Election of board of freeholders. An election of the board of freeholders may be called at any time by the legislative authority of any city. The election shall be called by the chief executive officer of any such city within ten days after there shall have been filed with the chief executive officer a petition demanding the election, signed by a number of qualified electors residing within the city equal to twenty-five per cent of the total number of votes cast at the next preceding general municipal election. The election shall be held not later than thirty days after the call therefor. At the election, a vote shall be taken upon the question whether further proceedings toward adopting a charter shall be had in pursuance to the call, and unless a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon shall vote to proceed further, no further proceedings shall be had, and all proceedings up to the time of the election shall be of no effect.

-4 Franchises; approval of electors; term. No municipal corporation having a population of less than twenty-five thousand shall ever grant, extend, or renew a franchise without the approval of a majority of the qualified electors residing within its corporate limits who shall vote thereon at a general or special election, and the legislative body of any such corporation shall submit any such matter for approval or disapproval to the electors at any general municipal election, or call a special election for that purpose at any time upon thirty days' notice. No franchise shall be granted, extended, or renewed for a period of time longer than twenty-five years.

-5 Right of municipal corporation to engage in business or enterprise. Every municipal corporation within this State shall have the right to engage in any business or enterprise which may be engaged in by a person, firm or corporation by virtue of a franchise from the municipal corporation.

-6 Franchises; restrictions. No grant, extension, or renewal of any franchise or other use of the streets, alleys, or other public grounds or ways, of any municipality shall divest the State or any of its subdivisions of its or their control and regulation of that use and enjoyment; nor shall the power to regulate charges for public services be surrendered; and no exclusive franchise shall ever be granted.

-7 Powers and functions of municipal corporations. (a) A municipal corporation may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and rules not in conflict with general laws.

(b) The counties may perform municipal functions at the request of municipal corporations within them. A county may agree with a municipal corporation within it to assume and discharge specified municipal functions.

(c) A municipal corporation may establish, purchase, and operate public works to furnish its inhabitants with light, water, power, heat, transportation, or means of communication. It may furnish those services outside its boundaries, except within another municipal corporation which furnishes the same service and does not consent. Persons or corporations may establish and operate works for supplying those services upon conditions and under regulations that the municipal corporation may prescribe by law."

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.