H-3833.1  _______________________________________________


                    HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 4221



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2002 Regular Session


By Representative Dunshee


Read first time 01/30/2002.  Referred to Committee on Local Government & Housing.

Amending the Constitution to revise the method of altering county boundaries.


    THAT, At the next general election to be held in this state the secretary of state shall submit to the qualified voters of the state for their approval and ratification, or rejection, an amendment to Article XI, section 3 of the Constitution of the state of Washington to read as follows:


    Article XI, section 3.  (1) No new counties shall be established, or annexation shall occur, which ((shall)) at the time of such action reduces any county to a population  less than ((four)) twenty thousand (((4,000), nor shall a)).  No new county may be formed containing a ((less)) population of less than ((two)) twenty thousand (((2,000))), except by the consolidation of two or more counties.  All portions of the state shall be in a county.  There shall be no territory stricken from any county unless a majority of the voters living in such territory shall petition therefor and then only under such other conditions as may be prescribed by a general law applicable to the whole state except when authorized under subsection (2) of this section.

    (2) The legislature may act to consolidate two or more counties when either:  (a) A county has filed, or against which has been filed, a petition under federal bankruptcy laws, and a petition for dissolution is initiated by a resolution of the legislative authority of the county petitioning for bankruptcy; or (b) an existing county proposes to annex another county.  This action is initiated by resolution of the legislative authority of the annexing county and the county proposing to be annexed, and includes a petition with signatures of ten percent of the voters residing within the county proposed to be annexed.  A ballot proposition authorizing the annexation must be approved by the voters of the county proposing to be annexed.

    (3) Every county which shall be enlarged or created from territory taken from any other county or counties shall be liable for a just proportion of the existing assets, debts, and liabilities of the county or counties from which such territory shall be taken:  PROVIDED, That in such accounting neither county shall be charged with any debt or liability then existing incurred in the purchase of any county real property, or in the ((purchase or)) construction or improvement of any county buildings ((then in use, or under construction)) or other real property, which shall fall within and be retained or obtained by the other county:  PROVIDED FURTHER, That this shall not be construed to affect the rights of creditors.

    (4) The legislature, in order to ensure continuity of state and local governmental operations in periods of emergency resulting from a petition for dissolution filed under subsection (2)(a) of this section, shall have the power and the duty, immediately upon and after adoption of this amendment, to enact legislation providing for prompt and temporary succession to the powers and duties of public offices of whatever nature and whether filled by election or appointment for a county that has declared financial bankruptcy, the incumbents and legal successors of which may become unavailable for carrying on the powers and duties of such offices.  The legislature shall likewise enact such other measures as may be necessary and proper for ensuring the continuity of governmental operations during such emergencies.  Legislation enacted under the powers conferred by this amendment shall in all respects conform to the remainder of the Constitution.


    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the secretary of state shall cause notice of this constitutional amendment to be published at least four times during the four weeks next preceding the election in every legal newspaper in the state.


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