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

San Antonio City Council expedites potential paid sick leave ballot measure by passing ordinance.

Earlier this month, paid sick leave ordinance supporters in San Antonio celebrated their petition’s validation after it reached the necessary number of signatures to appear on the November general election ballot. However, at its weekly meeting this Thursday, the city council went a step further and approved the ordinance by a 9-2 vote. Under the new law, employees at medium-to-large businesses can accrue at least 64 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employees at smaller businesses can accrue at least 48 hours per year. Ordinance supporters celebrated its passage. Alex Birnel, advocacy manager for MOVE Texas, a progressive nonprofit, said it’s important to have the law on the books. “All that we care about is the 354,000 workers getting paid sick time,” said Birnel. However, local business leaders expressed unease about the new ordinance. Rey Chavez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, spoke on behalf of local businesses and stressed the harmful effect the law would have. “They cannot afford to do this paid sick leave ordinance,” said Chavez. The ordinance will take effect for medium-to-large size businesses on August 1, 2019. Small businesses with five workers or fewer will have until August 1, 2021.

Fort Dodge, Iowa, may crack down on underage drinking with social host ordinance.

Fort Dodge City Council members are currently debating an ordinance that would penalize homeowners that allow underage drinking on their property. While some praised the ordinance as a useful tool, other criticized it for vague language and possible unintended effects. Police Chief Roger Porter claimed that the law would provide local law enforcement officers with another way to hold property owners accountable. “It gives us a little bit more leverage,” said Porter. Critics of the law, such as Councilman Jeff Halter, stressed that the new law could force underage drinking into more unsafe areas. “I would much rather know what they’re doing in a residential setting versus hiding at the dead end of a gravel road,” said Halter. If passed, first-time offenders could expect to see a $250 fine. If residents violate the law multiple times, they would face $750 fines. The city council will continue to make revisions to the ordinance. Although there is no scheduled date for a future hearing, the council is expected to discuss it in the next several weeks.

Newport ordinance forces police to shut down kids’ lemonade stand.

Last week, police in Newport, Rhode Island, shut down a lemonade stand run by two kids at a local tourist attraction, the Cliff Walk. Although the children were not selling lemonade, they were accepting donations, which an officer told them placed them in violation of an ordinance passed last year to curb vendors and litter on the Cliff Walk. Specifically, the ordinance forbids the sale of any items on the Cliff Walk, including “the transfer of such items for a donation, tip or gratuity with the intent of such transfer being the transfer of such items for the payment of financial consideration.” The ordinance was passed after a previous summer season had produced an increase in complaints about commercial vendors at the Cliff Walk. The police action, explained Lt. Frank Rosa, was part of a “proactive approach” regarding commercial ordinance violations. “It’s not like we’re out hunting lemonade stands,” he added.

Still, the purveyors of this particular lemonade stand are not going quietly. Last Wednesday, the two young entrepreneurs met with Newport Mayor Henry Winthrop, “where they presented possible solutions to preserve non commercial lemonade stands.” The two are also set to present their ideas to the Cliff Walk Commission next month.

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