A petition to repeal the Roeland Park anti-discrimination ordinance approved in August has been approved by the Johnson County legal department.
Mary Buhl, assistant county counselor, said the county has approved the wording of the question that would be placed on the ballot.
The next step is obtaining signatures from 472 registered Roeland Park voters. If the required number of valid signatures is obtained, the Roeland Park City Council must either repeal the ordinance or schedule a citywide election to determine its fate.
Linda Mau, a former city councilwoman and mayoral candidate, submitted the petition to the Johnson County legal department.
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Susan Hunt, an attorney who is a spokeswoman for Mau, said the petition is designed to allow voters to decide whether an anti-discrimination ordinance should be enacted in Roeland Park.
“The petition isn’t for or against the ordinance, it is to allow voters to decide,” she said. “Our taxpayer money will go to enforce this, so it should be up to the voters.”
Hunt said the council voted 4-4 to approve the ordinance, with Mayor Joel Marquardt breaking the tie in favor of the ordinance.
“The residents and constituents were evenly divided on the issue, so we think its best that voters decide,” she said.
Hunt said the group has 180 days to obtain the required number of signatures. The petition would then go to the city, which would determine the validity of the signatures with the assistance of the Johnson County election office.
If the petition is determined to be valid, the council can repeal the ordinance or set an election. The city is scheduled to have a city election primary, if needed, in February, and city elections will be held in April. A vote on the petition could be scheduled at that time.
On Monday night the Roeland Park Committee of the Whole agreed to move forward with voting on request for proposals for mediation, investigation and hearing services to enforce the anti-discrimination ordinance when it goes into effect on Jan. 1. Services would be used on an as-needed basis to address discrimination claims filed in the city. The RFP deadline submission is Oct. 22.
The council has also agreed to add exemptions for military discounts to the law. Action on the exemption is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 22. The exemption would allow private-sector businesses to continue to offer discount programs for veterans, members of the military and their families.
The ordinance, which adds protection for sexual orientation sexual orientation, gender identity, race, sex and military service, in employment, housing and public service, was introduced by councilwomen Megan England and Jennifer Gunby in March.
Several public comments and workshops were held to discuss the ordinance. Public opinion was split and the council pushed back a vote four times, ultimately passing the ordinance in August.