An Ordinance which restricted the City of Salina’s power to respond to an emergency declared by either the county or state has been struck down by a judge. The petition, then ballot driven Ordinance had restricted the City of Salina from enacting health measures including mandating face coverings and limiting capacities at businesses.
A petition, which had in excess of 1,600 valid signatures, was submitted last July. At that time Salina City Commissioners had concerns of the validity and legality of the proposed Ordinance, and submitted it for a court ruling.
In the meantime, the Ordinance went on the ballot in the November 2021 election and passed.
Late last week Judge Paul Hickman ruled the Ordinance to be void.
The Ordinance makes new law, and also declared a public purpose-preventing the exercise of the City Commission’s Home Rule powers and surrendering those decisions to the County.
Hickman said the question for the Court turns on the weight two factors.
The first consideration was whether the Ordinances’ restrictions on City authority to control the wearing of “face coverings” or “other medical protective equipment on its own property and by its own employees requires “specialized training and experience in municipal government and intimate knowledge of the fiscal and other affairs of a city in order to make a rational choice. The court finds that as written, the ordinance does this.
The second consideration was whether the language attempting to restrict the wearing of “face coverings and other “medical protective equipment” on “any public owned property” implicates matters of statewide concern regarding the decision-making power of other government entities. A number of government entities own or occupy property and facilities inside the city limits of the City of Salina: Saline County; Unified School District 305; Kansas State University; the State of Kansas; and the Federal Government (among other government entities) all own or occupy facilities within the city limits of the Salina.
Hickman determined the Ordinance’s intrusions on the City’s control of its employees and properties is sufficiently significant and its effect upon other government authority is so broad that it can no longer be considered “clearly and fully legislative” but rather “principally administrative.”
The court found that the restrictions upon the City’s authority as an employer and as a property owner implicates administrative concerns. The attempt to regulate or restrict properties controlled by other government entities also creates matters of statewide concern. As such it cannot become law.
The court finds that as written the Ordinance is void.
Salina City Commissioners were briefed on the court ruling Monday evening and discussed it in executive session.