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Council committee begins review of Stow's laws

Published: June 11, 2017 12:00 AM
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Stow -- City Council President Mike Rasor has announced that he has commissioned a special committee to scrutinize all city laws.

The purpose is to find ordinances and regulations that are unnecessary, unenforced, or over-intrusive, he said. Councilmembers Matt Riehl, Jim Costello and Brian D'Antonio will serve on the committee.

"If you take a look through our ordinances, you will find some truly absurd concepts, particularly from the 1970s," Rasor said. "I predict you will see us repeal some laws that are very outdated."

To illustrate the need for this special committee, Rasor said he was proposing legislation this week to repeal a 1979 law regarding charities and fundraisers. The law requires any charity to obtain a city license three weeks before hosting a fundraiser. The application must include evidence of $250,000 in liability insurance, a list of all volunteers, proof that a security guard has been hired, and proof that the county prosecutor and sheriff have been notified.

Rasor's proposed legislation was on City Council's agenda for its June 8 meeting, but information on any action taken was not available by press time.

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According to Rasor, also under the 1979 law: (1) Each person is limited to supervising only one fundraiser in any given year. (2) No one under 18 years old is permitted to attend. (3) Any violators are subject to a first-degree misdemeanor, which is the same penalty as domestic violence and driving under the influence.

The fundraiser law is not regularly enforced, but it could be, Rasor, adding he believes this uneven enforcement "creates the potential for abuse, harassment, and targeting." Rasor also stated that unenforced laws devalue other, legitimate laws that the city works hard to enforce.

"The potential is there for unfair targeting," Rasor said. "And it's not far-fetched. We saw this play out with the IRS targeting conservative groups a few years ago."

The special committee will begin reviewing Stow's codified ordinances this month.

Riehl, a member of the special committee, added: "Often, elected officials are judged by how many laws they create. Instead, elected officials should be judged by how many burdensome laws and regulations that they repeal."


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