Elections FAQ 14

Can direct legislation be used for any type of ordinance?

No.Direct legislation authority is subject to four judicially implied limitations. A direct legislation ordinance:
  1. must be legislative as opposed to administrative or executive in nature;
  2. cannot repeal existing legislation (unless it is a charter resolution);
  3. may not exceed the legislative powers conferred upon the governing municipal body; and
  4. may not modify statutorily prescribed procedures or standards.
These judicial limitations are intended to “preserve municipal control over executive and administrative functions and protect the integrity of the statutory framework governing municipalities, while at the same time permit the proper invocation by electors of the direct legislation procedure provided by the statute.” Mount Horeb Community Alert v. Village Board of Mt. Horeb,2003 WI 100, para. 18. If none of these limitations apply and the statutory requirements have been met, the city council or village board must comply with the directives of Wis. Stat. sec. 9.20 to adopt the proposed legislation or submit it to the electors for a vote.