SECTION 1. For the purposes of this Article, (1) "code county" means a county which is not a charter county under Article 11A of this Constitution and has adopted the optional powers of home rule provided under this Article; and (2) "public local law" means a law applicable to the incorporation, organization, or government of a code county and contained in the county's code of public local laws; but this latter term specifically does not include (i) the charters of municipal corporations under Article 11E of this Constitution, (ii) the laws or charters of counties under Article 11A of this Constitution, (iii) laws, whether or not Statewide in application, in the code of public general laws, (iv) laws which apply to more than one county, and (v) ordinances and resolutions of the county government enacted under public local laws.
SEC. 2. The governing body of any county, by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members elected thereto, may propose by resolution that the county become a code county and be governed by the provisions of this Article. Upon the adoption of such a resolution, it shall be certified to the Board of Supervisors of Elections in the county, which Board (pursuant to the election laws of the State) shall submit to the voters of the county at the next ensuing general election the question whether the resolution shall be approved or rejected. If in the referendum a majority of those persons voting on this question vote for the resolution, the resolution is approved, and the county shall become a code county under the provisions of this Article, on the thirtieth day after the election. If in the referendum a majority of those persons voting on this question vote against the resolution, the resolution is rejected, and of no further effect.
Provided that if at the next ensuing general election there shall be submitted to the voters of the county a proposed charter under Article 11A of this Constitution, the proposed charter only shall be submitted to the voters at that next ensuing general election. If the proposed charter is adopted by the voters, this particular resolution to become a code county shall not be submitted to the voters and shall have no further effect. If the proposed charter is rejected by the voters, the code question under this Article shall be submitted to the voters at the general election two years later, and no charter question under Article 11A shall be submitted to the voters at that general election.
SEC. 3. Except as otherwise provided in this Article, a code county may enact, amend, or repeal a public local law of that county, following the procedure in this Article.
SEC. 4. Except as otherwise provided in this Article, the General Assembly shall not enact, amend, or repeal a public local law which is special or local in its terms or effect within a code county. The General Assembly may enact, amend, or repeal public local laws applicable to code counties only by general enactments which in term and effect apply alike to all code counties in one or more of the classes provided for in Section 5 of this Article.
SEC. 5. The General Assembly, by law, shall classify all code counties by grouping them into not more than four classes based either upon population as determined in the most recent Federal or State census or upon such other criteria as determined by the General Assembly to be appropriate. Not more than one such grouping of code counties into four (or fewer) classes may be in effect at any one time, and the enactment of any grouping of code counties into four (or fewer) classes repeals any other such grouping then in effect. Code counties may be classified only as provided in this section.
SEC. 6. A code county may enact, amend, or repeal a public local law of that county by a resolution of the board of county commissioners. The General Assembly may amplify the provisions of this section by general law in any manner not inconsistent with this Article.
SEC. 7. Any action of a code county in the enactment, amendment, or repeal of a public local law is subject to a referendum of the voters in the county, as in this section provided. The enactment, amendment, or repeal shall be effective unless a petition of the registered voters of the county requires that it be submitted to a referendum of the voters in the county. The General Assembly shall amplify the provisions of this section by general law in any manner not inconsistent with this Article, except that in any event the number of signatures required on such a petition shall not be fewer than five percentum (5%) of the voters in a county registered for county and State elections.
SEC. 8. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Article, the General Assembly has exclusive power to enact, amend, or repeal any local law for a code county which (1) authorizes or places a maximum limit upon the rate of property taxes which may be imposed by the code county; or (2) authorizes or regulates the maximum amount of indebtedness which may be incurred by the code county. Public local laws enacted by the General Assembly under this section prevail over any public local laws enacted by the code county under other sections in this Article.
SEC. 9. A code county shall not levy any type of tax, license fee, franchise tax, or fee which was not in effect or authorized in the code county at the time it came under the provisions of this Article, until an express authorization of the General Assembly has been enacted for this purpose by a general law which in its terms and effect applies alike to all code counties in one or more of the classes provided for in Section 5 of this Article.
SEC. 10. All laws enacted by the General Assembly and in effect when this Article was added to the Constitution shall remain in effect until amended or repealed under this Constitution. Every public local law enacted, amended, or repealed by a county under the provisions of this Article prevails over the previous public local law, except to the extent it is subject to an applicable law enacted by the General Assembly.
November 5, 2002
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