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Local Policy Digest

By John Lunde and Matt Crawley | October 26, 2018
Topics: Local

MultiState's Local Policy Digest explores the top legislative developments from municipalities across the U.S.

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Collier County, Florida, considers an anti-skimming ordinance. On Tuesday, the Collier Board of County Commissioners advanced an ordinance proposal that would require all gas stations to implement new pump security measures to protect customers against skimmers. Skimmers are inconspicuous devices thieves attach to gas pump credit card readers that collect customers’ financial information. Collier County is one of many Florida communities that have taken legislative action following recent increases in the number of skimming attacks. Collier officials have found 31 skimmer devices at county gas stations so far in 2018.

The proposed ordinance would “require gas station owners and operators to place security measures on each gas pump designed to prevent the installation of credit card skimmers.” It would allow retailers to choose a security measure from a list of three options:

  1. “A visible Fuel Pump lock, which requires an access key unique to each facilities’ location, to restrict the unauthorized access of consumer Payment Card
    Information… [to] be maintained at the facility at all times...”
  2. “A device or anti-breach system that will render the Fuel Pump, or the Scanning Device in the Fuel Pump, inoperable if the Fuel Pump is accessed without proper security code entry; or...”
  3. “A device or system that encrypts the customer Payment Card information in the Scanning Device.”

Gas station owners who fail to comply with the ordinance could expect to be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $500, and face a potential jail sentence of up to 60 days.

Commissioner Burt Saunders said that the ordinance was unpopular among state regulators and industry officials at first, “until there was a recognition that this really was a very inexpensive fix to a very significant problem.”

A county attorney will finalize the ordinance draft before an official vote is held. If passed, the ordinance would take effect on January 1.

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Memphis steps up enforcement on rogue scooter launches. Local lawmakers in Memphis, Tennessee, are growing frustrated with the unauthorized launch of a new scooter share company within the city limits. In June, the shared scooter company Bird executed an interim operating agreement with the Memphis City Council.

In October, one of Bird’s competitors, Lime,  launched an unauthorized fleet of roughly 100 scooters without first obtaining any of the required permits. The city council has responded with threats of legislative action and impounded some of the scooters.

“We have served notice to the company that it must remove its scooters. If it does not comply, we are prepared to remove them,” the city council tweeted on October 19.

Lime pushed back against the city council’s warning, asserting that it had followed the city’s direction but received no response from local officials.

“For reasons that seemingly have no connection to Lime, we remain unable to join the program for an undetermined duration of time,” said Sam Sadle, Lime’s director of government relations.

The city will likely continue to impound Lime’s scooters until Lime and the city council can come to an agreement.

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Virginia’s outdated trick-or-treating laws are the scariest things you’ll encounter this Halloween. Local communities in southern Virginia are facing harsh criticisms for outdated ordinances prohibiting older children from trick-or-treating on Halloween. The laws date as far back as the 1960s, when local teenagers raised hell and alleged "death and vandalism marred the occasion.”

Organizations such as the ACLU have authored critical opinion pieces about the laws, arguing that the criminal laws are unnecessary and their punishments, which can include jail time, are unduly harsh and may be unevenly applied to children of color and children with disabilities. An online petition to change the law in Chesapeake, Virginia, has garnered over 14,000 signatures.

Passed in 1970, Chesapeake’s ordinance limits trick-or-treating to the hours between 6 and 8 p.m., bars children over 12 from participating, and promises to punish violators with fines of up to $100 and/or 30 days in jail.

Through the Chesapeake Public Communications Department, city officials explained that Chesapeake's law, the bones of which were modeled after one passed in Hampton, Virginia, was intended to create a safe environment for trick-or-treaters. However, the Chesapeake Police Department maintains that police are “not actively seeking out violations of the time or age limits,” according to the City Hall website.

“A 13-year-old safely trick or treating with a younger sibling is not going to have any issues,” the notice reads. “That same child taking pumpkins from porches and smashing them in the street more likely will.”

Chesapeake and Hampton are not the only cities in Virginia that have some law regulating Halloween activities. Cities including Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach all maintain regulations on trick-or-treating.

MultiState currently tracks more than 3,900 cities, towns, and counties. Additional information about our Local Tracking Service is available here.

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