Legislative Glossary

Expand All Terms
Adjournment
+
The conclusion of a City Council meeting.
Agenda
+
The proposed order and items of business to be considered at City Council meetings.
Amendment
+
A revision made or proposed to be made to an item, e.g., motion, agenda, or legislation, in the form of a motion to amend.
Appointment
+
Appointments are records of individuals appointed to a specific department, office, board, commission, public development authority, or other body.
Appropriation
+
A legal authorization granted by the City Council to make expenditures and incur obligations for specific purposes.
Budget - Adopted and Proposed
+
Annually, the Mayor submits to the City Council a recommended expenditure and revenue level for all City operations for the coming fiscal year as the Proposed Budget.

When the City Council agrees upon the revenue and expenditure levels, the Proposed Budget becomes the Adopted Budget, funds are appropriated, and legal expenditure limits are established.

For a comprehensive list of Budget-related terms, please visit the Budget Glossary.
Budget - Endorsed
+
The City of Seattle implements biennial budgeting through the sequential adoption of two one-year budgets.

When adopting the budget for the first year of the biennium, the Council endorses a budget for the second year.

The Endorsed Budget is the basis for a Proposed Budget for the second year of the biennium, and is reviewed and adopted in the fall of the first year of the biennium.

For a comprehensive list of Budget-related terms, please visit the Budget Glossary.
Call to Order
+
Announcement by the Committee Chair or presiding officer that a meeting of the City Council is officially in session.
City Charter
+
A legal document, enacted by the People of the City of Seattle, that establishes the municipal corporation of the City of Seattle, that embodies the fundamental principles of the City, defines the City's powers and duties, and guarantees certain rights to the people.
City Clerk
+
The administrative head of the Legislative Department. The Office of the City Clerk provides access to the City of Seattle's legislative process, local laws, policies, and regulations, ensuring the integrity and preservation of the public record.
City Council
+
The City Council, the legislative branch of government, consists of nine elected members. Two Councilmembers are elected at large, and seven are elected by council district.
Clerk File
+
Permanent records filed with the City Clerk that may include reports, initiatives and referenda, agreements, appointments, and land use applications. These documents are officially filed with the City Clerk by Council, by another City agency, and in certain cases provided for by law.
Committee Chair
+
The presiding officer of the committee.
Committee Report
+
The final recommendation and vote on legislation reported out to the Full Council by a committee.
Council Bill ("Bill")
+
A proposed ordinance that creates new law, amends or repeals existing law, appropriates money, prescribes fees, transfers functions from one agency to another, provides penalties, or takes other action.
Council Briefing Meeting
+
A meeting regularly held on Mondays at 9:30 a.m., in which all Councilmembers discuss and receive briefings on issues of general interest.
Council Chamber
+
A meeting room in City Hall where the City Council conducts its business.
Council Committees
+
Standing Council Committees are established by Council Resolution, and it assigns the committee scope of work, Chair and membership, and regular meeting schedules. Committees are responsible for reviewing assigned legislative proposals and making recommendations to the Full Council.
Council President
+
The presiding officer of the City Council and head of the Legislative Department, elected biennially by Seattle City Councilmembers.

The Council President presides over meetings of the Full Council and Council Briefings and is a voting member of the Council. The Council President is elected from among the City Councilmembers to serve a two-year term. The Council President coordinates the work of the Council, including establishment of committees and appointment of committee chairs and members. When the Mayor is absent from the City or incapacitated, the Council President assumes the duties and responsibilities of the Mayor.
Council President Pro Tem
+
A Councilmember acting as President on a temporary basis; pro tempore, "for the time being."
Council Rules
+
The official General Rules and Procedures of the City Council, required by the City Charter and adopted by Resolution, that govern the organization, operation, and meetings of the City Council.
Departments
+
Divided Report
+
A committee recommendation that is not unanimous. A report to the Full Council is optional and will contain a summary of both the majority and minority recommendations.
Effective Date Clause
+
The section of a Council Bill that indicates the number of days until the bill will take effect once passed and approved.
Emergency Clause
+
A provision in a bill that allows a measure to become effective immediately upon the signature of the Mayor, when an emergency exists in which it is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety.
Executive Session
+
A portion of a City Council meeting that is not open to the public. The State Open Public Meetings Act (Revised Code of Washington 42.30) governs which types of discussions can be closed to the public.
Full Council Meeting
+
A meeting regularly held on Mondays at 2 p.m., where all Councilmembers are members and take final action on legislation reported from a committee or referred directly to the Full Council.
Initiative
+
The right of Seattle voters, guaranteed by the Charter, to directly initiate by petition to enact legislation.

For more information about the Initiative process, please see the Initiative Petition Guide.
Introduction and Referral Calendar
+
A list of new legislation that is being introduced and referred to a committee or to the Full Council. The list contains the legislation type, assigned number, title, committee assignment, and sponsor of each item.
Journal of Proceedings (Minutes)
+
The official written record of action taken at a Full Council meeting.
Legislation
+
Legislation is a potential law or policy considered by the City Council in the form of a Council Bill, Resolution, Appointment, or Clerk File.
Lobbyist
+
A person who is employed by an organization to represent its interests before the City Council.
Mayor
+
The Mayor of the City of Seattle is the head of the Executive Department and chief executive officer of the City. The Mayor is elected at-large. The Mayor is charged with the enforcement of City and State law, and maintaining peace and order in the city. The Mayor appoints heads of departments, subject to the approval of the City Council.
Motion
+
A parliamentary procedure, e.g., to amend, hold, or adopt, by which proposals are submitted by a Councilmember for consideration by the body.
Open Public Meetings Act
+
The Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), chapter 42.30 RCW, was passed by the Legislature in 1971 as a part of a nationwide effort to make government affairs more open, accessible and responsive.
Ordinance
+
A Council Bill passed by the Full Council and approved by the Mayor.
Proclamation
+
A form of official announcement by the City Council that generally relates to matters of commemorative observance.
Quasi-judicial Action (or Quasi-Judicial Matter)
+
An action of the City Council that determines the legal rights, duties, or privileges of specific parties in a hearing or other contested case proceeding. Quasi-judicial action does not include a legislative action adopting, amending, or revising a comprehensive, community, or neighborhood plan; zoning regulation; other land use planning document; or area-wide amendment to the Official Land Use Map.
Quasi-judicial Rules
+
Rules that establish procedures for quasi-judicial actions before the City Council and to implement the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine, Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 42.36.
Quorum
+
The number of Councilmembers required before certain business can be transacted or a meeting can come to order.
Referendum
+
The right of Seattle voters, guaranteed by the Charter, to have an ordinance that has been enacted by the City submitted to the voters for approval or rejection.

The process requires an initial petition containing no less than eight percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of Mayor at the last election.

For more information about the Referendum process, please see the Referenda Guide.
Resolution
+
Legislation that is administrative or temporary, or which expresses policy. Resolutions are not binding law.
Seattle Municipal Code (SMC)
+
A compilation of laws of a general and permanent nature, grouped by topic. Many Ordinances amend the SMC.
Select Committee
+
A committee with a specific focus and duration, created and appointed by the Council President when a need arises.
Simple Majority
+
A simple majority of the nine-member Council is five.
Special Meeting
+
A City Council meeting held at a time, day, or location that differs from the established regular meeting schedule.

The Mayor, the President of the City Council, or any three Councilmembers, may call a special meeting of the Council consistent with the provisions of RCW 42.30.080.
The Councilmember who agrees to consider a legislative item. Legislation can have multiple sponsors and co-sponsors.
Standing Committee
+
A committee comprised of at least three members of the City Council who study specific areas of concern and then report to the Full Council their findings and recommendations.

Standing committees meet on a regular schedule established biennially by Resolution.
Summary and Fiscal Note
+
A document that provides a background summary and an estimate of the expected financial impact of a Council Bill or Resolution.
Supermajority
+
A requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which exceeds a simple majority.

Two-thirds of the nine-member Council is six.

Three-fourths of the nine-member Council is seven.
Tie Vote
+
Evenly divided vote which effectively prohibits adoption of a proposal, including final votes on legislation or amendments to legislation.
Unanimous Consent
+
A parliamentary procedure commonly used for routine procedural questions, in which no Councilmember present objects to a proposal.
Veto
+
Authority of the Mayor to disapprove a Council Bill passed by the City Council.

The Council must reconsider a vetoed Bill and can override the Mayor's veto by a two-thirds vote.