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First Consideration moved on Human Rights Ordinance

BY REBECCA MORIN | OCTOBER 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Rules created by local and state officials have made parts of a previously broad public accommodation law, now obsolete.

By a 7-0 vote, the Iowa City City Council on Tuesday OK’d the first consideration to amend Title Two of the city’s long-standing Human Rights Ordinance.

The Human Rights Commission proposed an ordinance that will amend age restrictions that were developed under a public-accommodation clause.

The ordinance establishes public accommodation, which means establishments or facilities must offer services to all of the general public.

Rules created based on health, safety, or developmental differences made the Human Rights Ordinance clause useless.

“The passage of the 21-ordinance, as well as the state law that sets the legal drinking age, would make a claim of age discrimination under Human Rights Ordinance unviable,” according to a letter from Stefanie Bowers, the Iowa City human-rights coordinator, to City Councilor Jim Throgmorton. “The Human Rights Ordinance should have been updated the City Code 4-5-8 became law, but no one thought about the conflicting ordinance at the time.”

Although the 21-ordinance prevents people under the age of 21 from being in a bar after 10 p.m., the law is not in violation of the current Human Rights Ordinance because of state laws that hold precedence rather than the public-accommodation law, she said.

The current ordinance provides for equal treatment of people in regards to safety, health, or developmental differences between age groups.

The rule, which has received both community backlash and support will again be up for a vote once again during the Nov. 5 election.

During the public work session, Throgmorton first expressed confusion as to whether rights were taken away through the 21-ordinance because of the Human Rights Ordinance. However, Bowers said the current ordinance is not in violation.

“Basically, it’s just making the Human Rights Ordinance consistent with local and state laws, person’s under the legal age, it’s not taking away any rights that we have under 21-ordinance,” Bowers said at the City Council meeting. “It’s not subject to change; it’s just an ordinance that reflects this decision.”


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