We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.
HOME RULE FOR CITIES AND TOWNS
It is the intention of this article to grant and confirm to the people of every city and town in this state the right of self government in all local matters.
Every city and town shall have the power at any time to adopt a charter, amend its charter, enact and amend local laws relating to its property, affairs and government not inconsistent with this Constitution and laws enacted by the general assembly in conformity with the powers reserved to the general assembly.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this article, every city and town shall have a legislative body composed of one or two branches elected by vote of its qualified electors.
The general assembly shall have the power to act in relation to the property, affairs and government of any city or town by general laws which shall apply alike to all cities and towns, but which shall not affect the form of government of any city or town. The general assembly shall also have the power to act in relation to the property, affairs and government of a particular city or town provided that such legislative action shall become effective only upon approval by a majority of the qualified electors of the said city or town voting at a general or special election, except that in the case of acts involving the imposition of a tax or the expenditure of money by a town the same shall provide for the submission thereof to those electors in said town qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money.
Nothing contained in this article shall be deemed to grant to any city or town the power to levy, assess and collect taxes or to borrow money, except as authorized by the general assembly.
Every city and town shall have the power to adopt a charter in the following manner: Whenever a petition for the adoption of a charter signed by fifteen percent of the qualified electors of a city, or in a town by fifteen percent, but not less than one hundred in number, of those persons qualified to vote on any proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money shall be filed with the legislative body of any city or town the same shall be referred forthwith to the canvassing authority which shall within ten days after its receipt determine the sufficiency thereof and certify the results to the legislative body of said city or town. Within sixty days thereafter the legislative body of a city shall submit to its qualified electors and the legislative body of a town shall submit to the electors of said town qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money the following question: Shall a commission be appointed to frame a charter? and the legislative body of any city or town shall provide by ordinance or resolution a method for the nomination and election of a charter commission to frame a charter consisting in a city of nine qualified electors and in a town of nine electors of said town qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money who shall be elected at large without party or political designation and who shall be listed alphabetically on the ballot used for said election. Such ordinance or resolution shall provide for the submission of the question and the election of the charter commission at the same time. Upon approval of the question submitted the nine candidates who individually receive the greater number of votes shall be declared elected and shall constitute the charter commission.
Within one year from the date of the election of the charter commission the charter framed by the commission shall be submitted to the legislative body of the city or town which body shall provide for publication of said charter and shall provide for the submission of said charter to the electors of a city or town qualified to vote for general state officers at the general election next succeeding thirty days from the date of the submission of the charter by the charter commission. If said charter is approved by a majority of said electors voting thereon, it shall become effective upon the date fixed therein.
The legislative body of any city or town may propose amendments to a charter which amendments shall be submitted for approval in the same manner as provided in this article for the adoption of a charter except that the same may be submitted at a special election, and provided further that in the case of a town, amendments concerning a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money, shall be submitted at a special or regular financial town meeting.
Whenever the legislative body of any city or town consists of more than one branch, a petition for the adoption of a charter as provided in this article may be filed with either branch of said legislative body.
Duplicate certificates shall be made setting forth the charter adopted and any amendments approved and the same shall be signed by a majority of the canvassing authority; one of such certified copies shall be deposited in the office of the secretary of state and the other after having been recorded in the records of the city or town shall be deposited among the archives of the said city or town and all courts shall take judicial notice thereof.
The judicial powers of the state shall not be diminished by the provisions of this article.