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Toothless and Unnecessary – City Council Nixes Controversial Rights Bill

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to postpone indefinitely the proposed Human Rights bill. This means the bill was put to rest unless someone in the Council strongly desires to bring it back.

The City Council  discussed the proposed bill in three Council worksessions. While we added quite a few provisions to the draft versions, however City attorney told us there was no way this bill could be enforced by the City, County or the State.

According to the bill itself, the City will not be enforcing these laws itself, but rather will be referring aggrieved persons to the County and the State, who, per our attorney, will be only looking at their own Human / Civil rights ordinances ( MD §20-1013, 20-1035 and 20-1202) and not the proposed City ordinance.

Though the bill contains languages on many types of discrimination, the main purpose of the bill was to “end gender identity discrimination” as reported in this Diamondback article.

That need became moot after the State passed the MD State Bill HB1265, which was infamously called as the “Bathroom Bill” by its opponents and caused much controversies.

In terms of its content, the College Park bill is very similar to HB1265. Like the State bill, the Article §71-5 of the College Park bill includes public accommodations clause (which may refer to places such as bathrooms, shower rooms, locker rooms, fitting rooms etc) which cannot be subject to discrimination based on someone’s gender.

I want to thank bill’s main sponsor Council member Wojahn for taking City attorney’s advice and making the right judgment on this un-enforceable ordinance.

I personally wish we all knew this “toothlessness” of the ordinance from the beginning, so that the Council, staff and our attorney did not have to spend many hours in drafting, discussing, amending and researching this fairly large and complex ordinance.

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6 Comments to “Toothless and Unnecessary – City Council Nixes Controversial Rights Bill”

  1. By SK, July 16, 2014 @ 4:54 am

    Completely agreed. There is a reason why we have various levels of government. When elected officials forget the scope that they serve in, there comes these unnecessary and toothless bills as you mentioned.

  2. By Ellen Fielding, July 16, 2014 @ 5:39 am

    Agreed! We are citizens of the City of College Park but also of our county, state and of the United States, and I do think we need to keep in mind that these different levels are responsible for different kinds of things–the fact that someone in the city wants to address a problem doesn’t mean the right place to attempt to address it is always the city council.

    Also, I don’t think that proposals so far afield of regular city council business should be made if they have not been aired very publicly as part of an election campaign for city councilman. This is a part-time and relatively low-profile job and for better or worse many of those in College Park’s environs take it for granted that the council is mostly concerned with “maintenance” and public safety issues and they need not follow what goes on closely apart from expressing their views on these standard issues.

  3. By Lee Havis, July 16, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    Fazlul,
    Thanks for keeping us posted on this matter. Please help keep the council focused on practical work of basic functional issues, like saving money is the operation of basic services, like trash pick-up, bike trails, and reducing the burden of excessive interference of government in our daily lives. I think the counsel needs to spend more time finding ways to reduce taxes, rather than finding more ways to collect them by making a career of government for unnecessary personnel whose only job is to collect fees, such as aggressive parking violation surveillance, speed cameras, and the like. Maybe it would be a good idea to circulate the budget to all residents to justify why it is necessary to have such high taxes to do so little that affects us. Obviously, spending huge amounts of time, money and effort to try to solve the human relation and psychological problems of private citizens in the city is not a wise or prudent avenue of activity.

  4. By Robert Boone, July 16, 2014 @ 7:16 am

    I am thankful that Dr. Kabir had the insight to understand this bill as frivolous, redundant and a waste of council members and attorney’s time and our $$.

  5. By Zari Malsawma, July 16, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    Thank you, Fazlul, for being a person of courage & conviction who’s willing to stand firm in what he believes, even if he’s standing all alone! I hope & pray that other members of the City Council will be able to see through the personal agendas behind these wasteful proposals, and choose to focus on what’s truly important & useful for the City of College Park and its residents.

  6. By M A Amsa, July 16, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    All the comments made here are very useful and sensible and I hope that the city council pay heed to the concerns of the residents. Many thanks to Mr. Kabir for your dedication and effective participation in our city government.