Several changes to Austin's city charter and election rules could be on the ballot this November, and residents will get their first chance to weigh in during a public forum on Feb. 8.

What's happening

Last year, City Council asked for a review and possible updates for Austin's resident-initiated elections and related transparency guidelines.

Austinites can launch initiative, referendum and charter amendment petition efforts focused on city policy and structure as well as recall petitions aimed at removing elected officials from office. The requirements vary for each type of petition campaign.

The council-requested review of those processes kicked off last year with the formation of the 2024 Charter Review Commission. Appointed commissioners have been evaluating various rule changes over the past few months, and some of their ideas have included:
  • Requiring more information from people behind petition drives, such as their contact and campaign finance details alongside a statement of their intentions
  • Adjusting—or maintaining—the signature threshold for resident petition drives to make it onto an election ballot
  • Tying petition elections to higher-turnout November general election dates, rather than costlier and lower-turnout standalone or off-cycle elections
  • Changing the naming system for ballot propositions to cycle through the full alphabet across multiple elections, rather than beginning with a "Proposition A" in every election
The charter commission has also considered changes to civic ethics policies and the role of the appointed city attorney.

Members of the public are now invited to weigh in on the commission's work so far during a public hearing this week.

Get involved

The meeting will be held at City Hall, located at 301 W. Second St., on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. Attendees can participate in person or remotely, and the hearing will be broadcast live on ATXN.

Register to speak at the hearing here.

What's next

The 2024 Charter Review Commission has three more scheduled public meetings on Feb. 15, Feb. 29 and March 7.

Any changes to Austin's city charter the commission ends up supporting will be placed on this November's election ballot for final voter consideration and possible adoption.

More information about the charter review process is available here.