MultiState's Local Policy Digest explores the top legislative developments from municipalities across the U.S.
Lincoln, Nebraska, considers a proposal to ban bump stocks.
Earlier this week, the Lincoln City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance to ban the sale and possession of bump stocks within city limits. The ordinance specifically targets “firearm accessories that allow multiburst trigger activation such as bump stocks, hellfire triggers, and rotating trigger actuators allow firearms to mimic fully automatic weapons.”
The seed was planted last month when former Democratic Councilman Dan Marvin penned an open letter to the Lincoln City Council. In it, he asked the council to ban bump stocks as a response to the federal government's inaction following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month. Councilwoman Gaylor Baird, one of the ordinance's sponsors, said the ordinance would do just that. "This closes a loophole in our laws that allows someone to turn a lawful weapon into a machine gun," Baird said.
The Lincoln City Council is not alone in its concerns over bump stocks. Denver has already banned the devices, and Cincinnati is currently discussing its legal options to find a loophole around an Ohio law preempting local gun control measures, including those relating to “part of a firearm, a firearm 'component,' and ammunition.” Lincoln's ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing at the March 19 council meeting.
Iowa state lawmakers move to penalize local sanctuary cities by withholding funding.
Earlier this month, the Iowa House of Representatives' Public Safety Committee approved a bill for a full floor vote that would prohibit municipalities from adopting stances that limit local police's cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
The bill would require local law enforcement agencies to continue to detain any person already in custody if they receive a request to do so from federal immigration officials, even if that person is not being charged with a crime. It would also allow any member of the public to file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General or a county attorney’s office if that person believes a municipality is not fully enforcing federal immigration laws.
Representative Steve Holt, a supporter of the bill, argued that the legislation was necessary to combat Iowa City’s 2017 resolution (pg.37) that barred city’s police department from assisting federal immigration officers. Opponents of the bill say it undermines the relationship between police departments and the community. Michael Tupper, chief of police in Marshalltown, argued that the bill would make communities less safe.
The Iowa House of Representatives will vote on the Senate’s previously approved bill from last year. If endorsed by the Iowa House of Representatives, the law will head to Governor Kim Reynolds, who is likely to sign it.
The Baltimore City Council passes a ban on polystyrene products.
Earlier this week, the Baltimore City Council voted to institute new regulations on local businesses aimed at improving the overall public health of Baltimore residents. The new restrictions range from a ban on Styrofoam products to a limit on the amount of sugar in children’s drinks at restaurants, as well as a new ban on the building of crude oil terminals within the city limits. All three pieces of legislation were aimed at improving the overall public health of Baltimore residents.
The ordinances were met with considerable criticism from the local business community and constituents. Among the bills that drew the most controversy was the potential ban (link downloads PDF) on polystyrene, widely known as Styrofoam. Polystyrene products have become the most frequent type of pollutant found in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Local restaurant owners have come out against the ordinance, saying it would force them to purchase more expensive materials to replace their current cups, plates, and containers. Melvin Thompson, a senior vice president at the Restaurant Association of Maryland, claimed that the new regulations were anti-business. “Enacting such a costly ban with no measurable benefit would be poor public policy, and would further exacerbate the operational challenges facing our industry,” said Thompson.
Following a unanimous vote in favor of the ban at Monday’s meeting, the ordinance will be sent to the mayor's office, where Mayor Catherine Pugh has indicated that she'll sign it. Once enacted, Baltimore restaurants will have 18 months to phase out polystyrene food containers. If any business violates the new law, it can expect a $1,000 fine.
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