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LOCAL TAXATION EXEMPTION. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7 adding section 81/2 to article XIII of constitution.
Authorizes any county or municipality to exempt from taxation for local purposes in whole or in part, any one or more of following classes of property : improvements in, on, or over land; shipping; household furniture; live stock; merchandise; machinery; tools; farming implements; vehicles; other personal property except franchises; provides that ordinance or resolution making such exemptions shall be subject to referendum; and requires that taxes upon property not exempt from taxation shall be uniform. Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 7, a
sonal property. Thus are cities confronted with resolution to propose to the people of the State a complicated system. If, for example, in a of California an amendment to the Constitu- given city the tax should be raised on the land tion of the State of California by adding a alone, thus exempting other forms of property, new section to article XIII, relating to reve- it would immediately lessen the cost of assessnue and taxation.
ment and would encourage building, thrift and The legislature of the State of California at its
enterprise. For, it being no longer necessary to fortieth regular session commencing on the sixth
be punished for being thrifty, people would natday of January, nineteen hundred and thirteen,
urally brings into use land now held out of use. two thirds of all members of each house of said Where land is held out of use, for speculative legislature voting in favor thereof, hereby pro
purposes, by the land barons of the state, society pose an amendment to the Constitution of the suffers. If men realize, by virtue of a perfect State of California, by adding to article XIII a system of taxation, that it will not pay them to new section.
keep land out of use, they will immediately begin Section 1. Article XIII, of the Constitution of to improve the land with the result that more the State of California, is hereby amended by buildings will be erected, more mechanics, artiadding thereto a new section to be numbered sans and laborers will be employed, a greater deeight and one half, to read as follows:
mand for labor will ensue and an increase in Section 81. Any county, city and county, city wages will result. Consequently, the whole of or town, may exempt from taxation for local society will be benefited, and a better, grander purposes in whole or in part, any one or more of
and more moral order of things will result. the following classes of property: improvements Colorado has adopted a similar amendment, in, on, or over land; shipping; household furni- and the city of Pueblo in that state is working ture; live stock; merchandise; machinery; tools; under it to its fullest extent. Vancouver and farming implements; vehicles; other personal other provinces of Western Canada have adopted property except franchises. Any ordinance or it, and there is no noticeable desire to return to resolution of any county, city and county, city or the old system of taxation. The Minnesota Tax town, exempting property from taxation, as in Commission has recently recommended it, as well this section provided, shall be subject to a refer- as the Commission on New Sources of City Reveendum vote as by law provided for ordinances or
nue, city of New York. resolutions. Taxes levied upon property not ex
GEORGE GELDER, empt from taxation shall be uniform.
Assemblyman Fortieth District.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF ASSEMBLY CON
STITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO 7. Any one who opposes this amendment immediately places the people of the State of California in the position of being unable to govern themselves. In other words, the opponents are opposed to self-government.
The amendment is merely an enabling act, and does not, of itself, adopt any system of taxation, nor does it make any change in the present systems now in use. It merely gives to the people. of the various political subdivisions, set forth therein, the right to change their present system of taxation to best suit the welfare and advancement of their home city or town. For example, if a city wants to encourage manufacturing, that city could exempt manufacturing establishments from taxation. If
а. city would have more homes built within its borders, houses could be exempted. And so certain property might be exempt as the nature of each case required. This is what is called Home Rule in Taxation or self-government.
Cities now having the right to say how their money shall be spent should, by the same reasoning be entitled to adopt a svstem whereby that money is to be raised. The constitution has recently given to cities home rule by virtue of the initiative, referendum and recall, and it is only logical that cities should have home rule in matters pertaining to their tax system.
The present system of taxation is unjust, burdensome, complicated and costly. The taxpayer is compelled to pay a great number of deputies each year to assess all forms of property, including household furniture, gifts and other per
The general property tax for state purposes was so unsatisfactory that California abandoned it four years ago by separating state and local taxation. The general property tax for local purposes is unsatis'actory in California, as well as in other states that have separated state and local taxation.
The personal property tax is unsatisfactory wherever it is in force. It has been abandoned in Pennsylvania, and outside of the United States by every progressive nation. It is condemned by every thoughtful student of taxation as the easiest tax to evade, as incapable of equitable enforcement, and as unjust. The only way to get rid of it in California is by amending the constitution.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 7, known as the Home Rule Tax Amendment, gives Cali ornia counties, cities and towns the opportunity to abandon the personal property tax wholly or in part, at once or gradually, if they wish to do so, but does not compel its abolition if a county, city or town wishes to retain it.
There is a widespread and growing belief that taxes on improvements work injustice to the improver, operating to discourage improvements, although improvements benefit a community.
Some counties, cities and towns may prefer to abolish taxes on improvements; others may prefer to retain the improvement taxes. One county, city or town has no interest in the method by which another raises its local revenue, therefore, uniformity is not desirable, but merely interferes with progress. But a constitutional amendment is necessary to permit counties, cities and towns to tax or exempt improvements, as they may prefer, and the Home Rule Tax Amend- It gives them the right to exempt certain ment gives that permission, without compelling classes of property from taxation either in whole them either to exempt or to tax improvements. or in part, thus creating an unsettled value for
Home rule in taxation is merely an extension such property. of the other home rule rights given by the Cali- One set of officers could exempt from taxation fornia constitution to counties, cities and towns. property that their successors in office would inHome rule in taxation is not an "untried experi- clude for such taxable purposes, thereby creatment. It has been in force in the western pro- ing endless confusion. vinces of Canada for more than thirty years, in Classes of property included in this amendNew Zealand for twenty years, in the Australian ment would be of different value in adjoining states for fifteen years, and in the irrigation dis- territories. tricts of California since 1909. The Minnesota Under this provision the city of Oakland could Tax Commission praises its operation in western exempt merchandise from certain taxes, which Canada.
would compel the cities of San Francisco and The Home Rule Tax Amendment will enable Berkeley to exempt the same classes of property each county, city and town to adopt a system of from such taxes, or the merchants of the latter taxation that suits the people of the community, two named cities, other things being equal, could without regard to what is done by the people of not compete with the merchants of the former on other communities. Riverside county has no in- an equal basis. terest in local taxation in Shasta or any other Under this provision, improvements of all county. Los Angeles has no interest in the local kinds can be exempted from taxation in the taxation of Stockton.
county of San Francisco, which would compel The Home Rule Tax Amendment will permit adjoining counties to do likewise, or investors any county, city or town to exempt in whole or
would be induced to improve only in counties in part certain classes of property. Should all that exempt improvements from taxation. Indiof these classes of property be exempted by any viduals or corporations locating factory or mercounty, city or town, it would then have the sys
cantile sites would locate in the counties where tem of taxation that has been so successful in
taxes were the lightest, thus inducing local offihundreds of cities, towns and rural communities
cials to exempt such property from taxation in in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well order to secure such sites, to the detriment and as in the Modesto, Oakdale and other irrigation
expense of other classes of property. districts of California.
This amendment would make it possible for all For these reasons the Home Rule Tax Amend
cash in banks or bills receivable to be exempted ment should be approved.
from taxation. GEO. B. FINNEGAN,
It provides that a person could own vast numAssemblyman Ninth District.
bers of live stock, as some of our citizens do, and
not pay a cent of certain local taxes on that kind ARGUMENT AGAINST ASSEMBLY CONSTI
of property. TUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 7.
If this amendment is adopted it will tend to If the proposed amendment to article XIII of create dissension on the question of taxation. It the constitution is adopted, it will create a new
will create strife between owners of different revenue system, and will make possible a more classes of property, and will not only make unequal system of taxation than now prevails. vicious local legislation possible, but will induce
The theory of taxation is that it should be such legislation. It will assist the professional equal, and all classes of property should be sub- tax dodger. ject to just and equal taxation, and every tax A similar amendment to this one was submitted system should be statewide.
to the voters of the state two years ago and was This amendment will authorize local governing overwhelmingly defeated. bodies to alter any tax system now or hereafter
W. F. CHANDLER, existing.
Assemblyman Fiftieth District. ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, PREFERENTIAL VOTE AND
PRIMARY. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 19 amending section 13 of article XX of constitution. Declares plurality of votes at any primary or election constitutes choice unless constitution otherwise provides ; permits charters framed under constitution for counties or municipalities and general laws for other counties and municipalities to provide otherwise, or for nomination or election, or both, of all or any portion of candidates at a primary, or for preferential system of voting at any county or municipal primary or other election ; authorizes general laws providing preferential system of voting at any other primary. Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 19, a at any primary or other election shall constitute
resolution to propose to the people of the a choice, including nomination for and election State of California an amendment to the Con
to office; provided, that it may also be otherwise stitution of the State of California by amend
directed in charters framed under the authority ing section 13 of article XX, relating to elections.
of this constitution for cities, counties or cities
and counties and by general laws for other The legislature of the State of California, at its fortieth regular session, commencing the
counties and municipalities. Provision may be sixth day of January, nineteen hundred and thir- made in such charters, and by general laws in teen, two thirds of all the members elected to the case of other counties and municipalities, for each of the two houses of said legislature voting either or both nomination for and election to in favor thereof, hereby proposes that section
office at a primary election of all or any portion thirteen of article twenty of the Constitution of
of the candidates voted for at such primary elec. the State of California be amended to read as follows:
tion and for a preferential system of voting at PROPOSED LAW.
any county, city and county, or municipal pri.
mary or other election. Provision for a prefer. Section 13. Where not otherwise directed in ential system of voting at any other primary this constitution, a plurality of the votes given election may also be made by general laws.
Section 13, article XX, proposed to be amended, now reads as follows:
that it shall be competent in all charters of cities, o counties or cities and counties framed under the
authority of this constitution to provide the manmuner in which their respective elective officers may
be elected and to prescribe a higher proportion 06
of th vote therefor; and provided, also, that it shall be competent for the legislaturc by general
law to provide the manner in which officers of w municipalities organized or incorporated under
general laws may be elected and to prescribe a higher proportion of the vote therefor.
ceives such a majority, the candidate with the lowest number of first choices is dropped, and the second choices of those who voted for him as first choice are added to the first choice votes of the candidates remaining. This process is repeated till one has secured a majority of all votes cast and so elected.
Evidently much of the personal bitterness of present campaigns will be prevented, for no candidate, knowing that his election may require the second choice votes o the supporters of other candidates, is going to deliberately estrange such voters by uncalled-for attacks on such candidates.
In operation the preferential system has proved simple for the voter and satisfactory to the community, and also a great money saver.
Second-Applied to partisan primaries.
The legislature may, by general law, provide for the use of such system for selection of party candidates at partisan primaries, as is done in a number of states. It insures the selection of party candidates, supported by a majority of all electors of each party participating in the primary. Without such plan, the candidate may be nominated by a small minority. Such possibility is now used by leaders and bosses to dissuade more
than one of their faction from seeking nomination for fear that another group, though smaller, may, by concentrating on one candidate, win the nomination. Under preferential voting there is no danger of minority nomination, hence no such reason for preventing candidacies.
The “Berkeley" plan is still authorized under the changed provision; and any question of the legality of electing all or any portion of the candidates at the first or primary election is set at rest by specific sanction.
The amendment does not require the adoption of any system, but does enable the legislature on the one hand, and chartered cities and counties on the other, to adopt, if desired, such preferential system as may best suit the several needs.
WM. C. CLARK, Assemblyman Thirty-seventh District.
L. D. BOHNETT, Assemblyman Forty-fourth District.
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF ASSEMBLY CON
STITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 19.
The object of the amendment is to make posof
sible the adoption, when desired, of a preferential 7
system of electing officers where such are chosen as non-partisans, and of nominating party candidates where officers are chosen as partisans.
First-Applied to non-partisan elections.
Municipalities and counties having charters m may provide in such charters for a preferential he system of electing their respective officers. The
legislature may make similar provision for cities and counties not having charters.
The "preferential” system is in effect the socalled “Berkeley” plan of majority choice, with but one election instead of two, thus saving the cost, time and energy of a second election.
It is already in successful operation in Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Denver, Duluth, Minn., Spokane, Portland, Ore., and Cleveland
cities ranging from eight thousand to over half sir a million population.
While the details of various preferential plans differ, the underlying principle is the same.
Nomination, as under the “Berkeley" plan, is by re
a small petition. The ballots are : , printed that the voter may designate a second (and under some systems a third) as well as a first choice. If any candidate receives a majority of all the first choices he is thereby elected. If no one re
ASSEMBLY PAYROLL EXPENSES. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 23 amending section 23a of article IV of constitution. 1
Increases the amount allowed for the total expense for officers, employees and attachés of assembly at any regular or biennial session of legislature from present amount of five hundred dollars per day to six hundred dollars per day; makes no other change in operation of present section. Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 23, a ployee or attaché be increased after he is elected
resolution to propose to the people of the or appointed. State of California, an amendment to section
Section 23a, article IV, proposed to be amend23a of article 4, of the Constitution of the
ed, now reads as follows: State of California relative to the limitation of expense for officers and employees of the
EXISTING LAW. legislature.
Section 23a. The legislature may also provide The legislature of the State of California, at its
for the employment of help; but in no case shall
the total regular session, commencing the sixth day of
expense for officers, employees and January, 1913, two thirds of the members elected
attachés exceed the sum of five hundred dollars to each of the two houses of said legislature,
per day for either house, at any regular or bienvoting in favor thereof, hereby proposes to the
nial session, nor the sum of two hundred dollars qualified electors of the State of California, the
per day for either house at any special or exfollowing amendment to the Constitution of the traordinary session, nor shall the pay of any State of California :
officer, employee or attaché be increased after he
is elected or appointed. PROPOSED LAW. Section 23a. The legislature may also provide ARGUMENT AGAINST ASSEMBLY CONSTIfor the employment of help; but in no case shall
TUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 23. # the total expense for officers, employees and attachés of the senate exceed the sum of five The constitution now provides a limitation of hundred dollars per day, and in no case shall the expense of $1,000.00 per day for officers and total expense for officers, employees and attachés employees of the legislature while in session, of the assembly exceed the sum of six hundred
equally divided between the senate and assembly. | dollars per day, at any regular or biennial session, nor the sum of two hundred dollars per day
As there are eighty members of the assembly and in either house at any special or extraordinary
only forty in the senate, I introduced an amendsession, nor shall the pay of any officer, em- ment allowing $600.00 per day for the assembly
and $400.00 per day for the senate, leaving the total $1,000.00 per day, as at present. The senate amended by making it $ 600.00 per day for the assembly, or $100.00 per day more than present, and $500.00 (or as at present) for the senate, making a total of $1,100.00 per day.
A new law, which I introduced, is now in effect which combines the "file rooms” of each house, making a saving of about $50.00 per day for help.
Several bills were introduced providing for a “Member's Clerk" for each member; as these bills failed to become laws and as the file rooms will now be combined, I see no reason for the adoption of Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 23 and therefore recommend that it be defeated.
FRANK M. SMITH, Assemblyman Thirty-sixth District.
ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF MUNICIPAL CHARTERS.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 25 amending section 8 of article XI of constitution.
Authorizes cities of more than thirty-five hundred population to adopt charters; prescribes method therefor, and time for preparation thereof by freeholders; requires but one publication thereof, copies furnished upon application; provides for approval by legislature, method and time for amendment, and that of several conflicting concurrent amendments one receiving highest vote sliall prevail; authorizes charter to confer on municipality all powers over municipal affairs, to establish boroughs and confer thereon general and special municipal powers. Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 25, a of the clerk of the legislative body of said city.
resolution to propose to the people of the The legislative body of said city shall within fifState of California an amendment to section
teen days after such filing cause such charter to eight of article eleven of the Constitution of
be published once in the official paper of said the State of California relating to municipal
city; (or in case there be no such paper, in a corporations.
paper of general circulation); and shall cause The legislature of the State of California, at
copies of such charter to be printed in conveits regular session commencing on the sixth day
nient pamphlet form, and shall, until the date of January, 1913, two thirds of the members fixed for the election upon such charter, adver. elected to each of the two houses of said legisla- tise in one or more papers of general circulation ture voting in favor thereof, hereby proposes that published in said city a notice that such copies section 8 of article XI of the Constitution of the may be had upon application therefor. Such
charter shall be submitted to the electors of such State of California be amended to read as
city at a date to be fixed by the board of free. follows:
holders, before such filing and designated on such PROPOSED LAW.
charter, either at a special election held not less Section 8. Any city or city and county con- than sixty days from the completion of the pub
lication of such charter as above provided, or at taining a population of more than three thou
the general election next following the expira. sand five hundred inhabitants, as ascertained by
tion of said sixty days. If a majority of the the last preceding census taken under the
qualified voters voting thứreon at such general authority of the congress of the United States
or special election shall vote in favor of such or of the legislature of California, may from proposed charter, it shall be deemed to be ratia charter for its own government, consistent fied, and shall be submitted to the legislature, if with and subject to this constitution; and any
then in session, or at the next regular or special
session of the legislature. city, or city and county having adopted a char
The legislature shall
by concurrent resolution approve or reject such ter may adopt a new one. Any such charter
charter as a whole, without power of alteration shall be framed by a board of fifteen freeholders
or amendment; and if approved by a majority of chosen by the electors of such city at any gen- the meinbers elected to each house it shall beeral or special election; but no person shall be come the organic law of such city or city and eligible as a candidate for such board unless he county, and supersede any existing charter and
all laws inconsistent therewith. shall have been, for the five years next preced
One copy of the
charter so ratified and approved shall be filed ing, an elector of said city. An election for
with the secretary of state, one with the recorder choosing freeholders may be called by a two- of the county in which such city is located, and thirds vote of the legislative body of such city, one in the archives of the city; and thereafter and, on presentation of a petition signed by not the courts shall take judicial notice of the pro. less than fifteen per cent of the registered elec- visions of such charter. The charter of any city tors of such city, the legislative body shall call
or city and county may be amended by proposals
therefor submitted by the legislative body of the such election at any time not less than thirty
city on its own motion or on petition signed by nor more than sixty days from date of the filing
fifteen per cent of the registered electors, or of the petition. Any such petition shall be veri- both. Such proposals shall be submitted to the fied by the authority having charge of the regis- electors only during the six months next precedtration records of such city or city and county
ir.g a regular session of the legislature or there.
after and before the final adjournment of that and the expenses of such verification shall be
Canprovided by the legislative body thereof.
session and at either a special election called for
that purpose or at any general or special elecdidates for the office of freeholders shall be nom
tion. Petitions for the submission of any amendo inated either in such manner as may be provided ment shall be filed with the legislative body of for the nomination of officers of the municipal the city or city and county not less than sixty government or by petition, substantially in the days prior to the general election next preceding
a regular session of the legislature. The signa: same manner as may be provided by general
tures on such petitions shall be verified by the laws for the nomination by petition of electors of
authority having charge of the registration reccandidates for public offices to be voted for at
ords of such city or city and county, and the exgeneral elections. The board of freeholders shall,
penses of such verification shall be provided by within one hundred and twenty days after the the legislative body thereof. If such petitions result of the election is declared, prepare and have a sufficient number of signatures the legis. propose a charter for the government of such lative body of the city or city and county shall
so submit city; but the said period of one hundred and
the amendment or amendments so
proposed to the electors. Amendments proposed twenty days may with the consent of the legis
by the legislative body and amendments proposed lative body of such city be extended by such
by petition of the electors may be submitted at board not exceeding a total of sixty days. The
the same election. The amendments so sub. charter so prepared shall be signed by a majority mitted shall be advertised in the same manner of the board of freeholders and filed, in the office as herein provided for the advertisement of a
proposed charter, and the election thereon held at a date to be fixed by the legislative body of z such city, not less than forty and not more than sixty days after the completion of the advertising in the official paper. If a majority of the qualified voters voting on any such amendment vote in favor thereof it shall be deemed ratified, - and shall be submitted to the legislature at the t regular session next following such election; and approved or rejected without power of alteration
in the same manner as herein provided for the approval or rejection of a charter. In submitting Slany such charter or amendment separate propo
sitions, whether alternative or conflicting, or one E: included within the other, may be submitted at
the same time to be voted on by the electors separately, and, as between those so related, if - more than one receive a majority of the votes, 2: the proposition receiving the larger number of votes shall control as to all matters in conflict. It
shall be competent in any charter framed I under the authority of this section to provide that the municipality governed thereunder may make and enforce all laws and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to the
restrictions and limitations provided in their It several charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. It shall be : competent in any charter to provide for the division of the city or city and county governed thereby into boroughs or districts, and to provide that each such borough or district may exercise such general or special municipal powers, and to be administered in such manner, as may be provided for each such borough or district in the charter of the city or city and county.
The percentages of the registered electors herein required for the election of freeholders or
the submission of amendments to charters shall *
be calculated upon the total vote cast in the city or city and county at the last preceding general state election; and the qualified electors shall be those whose names appear upon the registration records of the same or preceding year. The election laws of such city or city and county shall, so
far as applicable govern all elections held under the authority of this section.
Section 8, article XI, proposed to be amended, now reads as follows:
from the record of the registration of electors of the county, showing the registration of electors of said city, whether the petition is signed by the requisite number of qualified electors of such city. If required by said clerk, the council, or other legislative body, of said city shall authorize him to employ persons specially to assist him in the work of examining such petition, and shall provide for their compensation. Upon the completion of such examination, said clerk shall forthwith attach to said petition his certificate, properly dated, showing the result thereof, and if, by said certificate, it shall appear that said petition is signed by the requisite number of qualified electors, said clerk shall present the said petition to said council, or other legislative body, at its next regular meeting after the date of such certificate. Upon the adoption of such ordinance, or the presentation of such petition, said council, or other legislative body, shall order the holding of a special election for the purpose of electing such board of freeholders, which said special election shall be held not less than twenty days, nor more than sixty days after the adoption of the ordinance aforesaid, or the presentation o: said petition to said council, or other legislative body; provided, that if a general municipal election shall occur in said city not less than twenty days, nor more than sixty days, after the adoption of the ordinance aforesaid, or the presentation of said petition to said council, or other legislative body, said board of freeholders may be elected at such general municipal election. Candidates for election as members of said board o. freeholders shall be nominated by petition, substantially in the same manner as may be provided by general laws for the nomination by petition of electors of candidates for public offices to be voted for at general elections.
It shall be the duty of said board of freeholders, within one hundred and twenty davs a.ter the result of such election shall have been declared by said council, or other legislative body, to prepare and propose a charter for said city, which shall be signed in duplicate by the members of said board of freeholders, or a majority of thein, and be filed, one copy in the office of the city clerk of said city, and the other in the office of the county recorder of the county in which said city is situated. Said council, or other leg. islative body, shall, thereupon, cause said proposed charter to be published for at least ten times, in a daily newspaper of general circulation, printed, published and circulated in said city; provided, that in any city where no such daily newspaper is printed, published and circulated, such proposed charter shall be published, for at least three times, in at least one weekly newspaper of general circulation, printed, published and circulated in said city, and, in any event, the first publication of such proposed charter shall be made within fifteen days after the filing of a copy thereof, as aforesaid, in the office of the city clerk. Such proposed charter shall be submitted by said council, or other legislative body, to the qualified electors of said city at a special election held not less than twenty days, nor more than forty days, after the completion of such publication : provided. that if a general municipal election shall occur in said city not less than twenty days. nor more than forty days, after the completion of such publication. then such proposed charter may be so submitted at such general election. If a majority of such qualified elertnes voting therenn at such general or special election shall vote in favor of such proposed charter, it shall be deemed to be ratified, and shall be submitted to the legislature, if it be in regular session, otherwise at its next regular session, or it Frau be submitted to the legislature in extraordinary session, for its approval or rejection as a whole. without power of alteration or amendment. Such approval may be made by concurrent resolution, and if approved by a majority vote of the members elected to each house, such charter shall become the charter of such city, or, if such city be consolidated with a county, then of such city and county, and shall become the organic law thereof, and supersede
Section 8. Any city containing a population of = more than three thousand five hundred inhabi
tants as ascertained anıl established by the last preceding census, taken under the direction of the i congress of the United States, or by a census of
said city, taken, subsequent to the aforesaid census, under the direction of the legislative body thereof, under laws authorizing the taking of the
census of cities, may frame a charter for its own government, consistent with, and subject to, the = constitution (or, having framed such a charter,
may frame a new one), by causing a board of fifteen freeholders, who shall have been, for at least five years, qualified electors thereof, to be elected by the qualified electors of said city, at a general or special municipal election. Said board of freeholders may be so elected in pursuance of an ordinance adopted by a vote of two thirds of all the members of the council, or other legislative body, of such city, declaring that the public interest requires the election of such board for the purpose of preparing and proposing a charter for said city, or in pursuance of a petition of qualified electors of said city, as hereinafter provided. Such petition, signed by fifteen per centum of the qualified electors of said city computed upon the total number of votes cast therein for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected, praying for the election of a board of fifteen freeholders to prepare and propose a charter for said city, may be filed in the office of the city clerk thereof. It shall be the duty of said city clerk, within twenty days after the filing of said petition, to examine the same and to ascertain