WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council passed the proposed ordinance banning discrimination by a vote of 4-3 on Tuesday. The ordinance will be placed on first reading and still needs final approval.

Mayor Brandon Whipple, Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson, and council members Jared Cerullo and Cindy Claycomb voted in favor. Council members Jeff Blubaugh, Becky Tuttle, and Bryan Frye voted against it.

Dozens of people lined up to speak out against and for the ordinance. Public comment ended at 1:45 p.m. before the discussion returned to the council. More than 40 people took the podium to speak during the first hours of the heated debate.

One side said there is no need for the ordinance because there is a state law.

“This is just another step that puts people with a religious faith in jeopardy, so a lot of questions, lot of concerns,” said Jeff Bennett, Family Policy Alliance executive director.

The other side says it will give Wichitans a chance to fight any discrimination.

“It gives them the chance to have an avenue that is accessible and easy for them to get to, to get justice for their situation,” said Lindsay Drees, ordinance advocate.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination against persons because of their age, color, disability, familial status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other factor protected by law in the areas of:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations

The ordinance would make the City of Wichita an enforcing agency with the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination alleged to have occurred within the city limits and to issue civil penalties of up to $2,000 for violations if complaints could otherwise be resolved. If someone feels discriminated against, they have 60 days to file a complaint with the City Clerk.

Mayor Brandon Whipple said having the ordinance can make it easier for any discrimination to be enforced.

“It’s an easier path for enforcement and really for resolution. It’s a cheaper path, you don’t have to lawyer up and sue someone, you can actually utilize this pathway,” Whipple said. “It’s showing the world that Wichita is an inclusive community and a community for everyone.”

The ordinance had changed dramatically since it passed during the June 15 meeting.

On another issue, the city council voted 7-0 to advance the ordinance on the regulation of alcohol and cereal malt beverages (CMB) and the creation of a new classification of the drinking establishment license for large-capacity venues.

The new ordinance for the city would put it in line with Kansas House Bill No. 2137. The bill was recently signed into law and amends several state statutes pertaining to the regulation of alcoholic liquor and CMB.

The ordinance would create a new classification of a drinking establishment license for large-capacity venues. The proposal allows persons under 21 years of age to attend events on the premises of a licensed drinking establishment without the business obtaining the 30% food sales as required by the current code.

The proposed amendments:

  1. Revise certain definitions pertaining to both alcoholic liquor and CMB in the City Code which have been amended by House Bill No. 2137.
  2. Expand the time limit for retail Sunday sales of alcoholic liquor and CMB from noon to
    8:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  3. Allow liquor-by-the-drink licensees (Class A and B clubs and all drinking
    establishments) to sell CMB for consumption on the premises without a separate license
    to do so.
  4. Allow retail liquor stores, drinking establishments, and Class A and B clubs to sell beer
    and CMB for consumption off the premises in refillable and sealable containers until 11:00
    p.m. Previously only microbreweries were allowed to make such sales.
  5. Allows beer, CMB, wine and mixed drinks to be sold “to go” by licensed establishments if
    placed in sealed containers. This extends on a permanent basis the provisions of Governor
    Kelly’s emergency order issued during the COVID shutdown.
  6. Allows alcohol caterers and the holders of temporary permits to sell CMB without a
    separate license.
  7. Allows removal of unconsumed CMB from the premises of a club or drinking
    establishment either in the original container or no longer in the original unopened
    container under the same conditions as certain alcoholic liquor can now be removed from
    the same premises.
  8. Allows clubs, drinking establishments, caterers and temporary permit holders to sell certain
    mixed drinks in pitchers and defined the terms “mixed alcoholic beverage” and “pitcher.”
  9. Allows persons who are not residents of Kansas and corporations that are not organized
    under the laws of the State of Kansas to hold a liquor license.
  10. Allows persons who are not residents of Kansas and Sedgwick County to hold a license to
    sell CMB.
  11. Allows spouses of law enforcement officers to hold a liquor license.
  12. Allows Class A clubs to enter into contracts to host special events allowing the serving of
    alcoholic liquor to non-members with 48 hours advance notification to the State.
  13. Allows drinking establishment and hotels to temporarily extend their licensed premises
    onto public streets, sidewalks or alleys during a special event provided that the event is
    approved by ordinance or resolution of the City Council and the public street, sidewalk or
    alley is closed to motor vehicle traffic.
  14. Allows the serving of samples of alcoholic liquor and CMB by temporary permit holders.
  15. Creates Section 4.16.158 of the City Code setting forth the rules for removal of alcoholic
    liquor and CMB from the licensed premises of a club or drinking establishment making
    these provisions easier to locate by persons consulting the City Code.
  16. Creates Section 4.16.140 of the City Code defining a new license category, “Drinking
    Establishment/Large Capacity Venue.” This proposed license category allows persons
    under 21 years of age to be on the premises of qualifying venues for certain entertainment
    regardless of the percentage of food sold by the establishment. Requirements for such
    venues are:
    – A capacity of at least 850 persons
    – The venue provides entertainment and has a permanent stage
    – Minors 18 to 21 years of age may be on the premises until midnight on any given night; minors under 18 years of age are allowed on the premises until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and until 11:00 p.m. on all other nights
    – Shows extending past midnight will be open to patrons over 21 years of age only
    – A formal system for checking IDs of patrons
    – Video surveillance and mandatory training of employees
    – Crowd management measures, security and an orderly closing process
    – Advance notification of the Wichita Police Department for events where patrons under 21 will be allows on the premises or when attendance of over 500 persons is expected

The city also passed the proposal to develop a plot of land near Kellogg and Webb Road by a vote of 7-0. Phil Ruffin is offering $8.7 million to take the land where the former K-Mart and Michaels used to be and turn it into an entertainment hotspot.