Ordinance proposed for Salina could curb city powers in emergencies

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SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) – A group called Salina Freedom wants to stop the City of Salina from enacting ordinances in emergencies.

“It’s just insane,” said former Salina City Commissioner Abner Perney. “It makes no sense whatsoever, and it’s potentially very dangerous.”

A measure on the ballot for the City of Salina is up for a public vote.

A sample ballot in Salina says, “This ordinance prevents the City of Salina from enacting any ordinance in response to a public emergency that imposes restrictions on businesses or citizens, leaving that responsibility to the county and subject to the Kansas Emergency Management Act.”

Perney is one of several former city commissioners and mayors asking people to vote no.

“It’s never smart to limit your future options,” said Perney. “Because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

Kevin Korb with Salina Freedom got enough signatures to get it on the ballot this voting cycle.

“We just felt like we needed to do something to get the emergency powers under control,” said Korb. “And starting at the local level seemed like, the, a good place to start.”

Korb maintains it may get enough votes to pass.

The proposed ordinance would only apply to the City of Salina and not Saline County or any other entity in Kansas.

“There’s a lot of citizen around here, and I think really all over the United States and all over the world that feel like some government entities really overreached when it came to infringing on personal liberties,” said Korb.

Korb says that applies to some COVID restrictions. At least one current commissioner says he will personally vote no on the ordinance.

“I personally believe that this ordinance will limit the City of Salina to act in the case of other emergencies,” said Salina City Commissioner Mike Hoppock.

Hoppock says COVID restrictions across Kansas and other places left some feeling like their freedoms have been challenged. But Hoppock also says the proposed ordinance to restrict the city from enacting some ordinances goes too far.

“I believe this puts the city at risk, and our job as a commission is to protect the residents of Salina,” said Hoppock.

Hoppock said in times of a large tornado or another natural disaster, the city needs to enact local ordinances. And that includes times when Saline County or the state enact ordinances of their own.

“I personally do not believe we as a city have overreached,” said Hoppock regarding city decisions. “I believe the way the system is set up has worked, and it continues to be that way.”

Korb still believes there may be enough votes to get it passed.

“Regarding government overreach, this is a good place to start,” said Korb.

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