City news

Three sections of the Uniform Public Offense Code adopted by the Kansas League of Municipalities was excluded from the code adopted by the Abilene City Commission on a 5-0 vote at its regular meeting Monday.

While City Attorney Aaron Martin said section 10.29 was not an ordinance for people in Abilene to wear a mask while in public, it was perceived that way by the public.

As when the ordinance that would have required masks in public when social distancing was not possible was before the commissioners in late September, several people gathered in front of the Abilene Public Library where the city meeting was held, protesting the passage of that section.

Martin told commissioners that adopting that section “was not a local mask order.’

“It would simply be making it a crime to violate any written orders of the county health officer,” he said. “Currently, we have no such written order of the county health officer but we could in the future. If this were adopted today, it would go into effect today. Kansas law does allow the county health officer to adopt written orders during situations like we are in right now that mandate quarantine or stay at home orders. The county health officer also has the ability to take other action.”

He said while there is no mask order right now, if the section of the uniform code is approved, there could be one if the county heath officer imposed one.

Martin said Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask order is in effect in the county.

“It is not an order of the county health officer,” he said.

The section reads (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to violate, refuse,or fail to comply with, a written order of the County Health Officer, Board of Health, or Director of Health issued under their respective authorities.

Similar to the mask ordinance that was proposed in September and was before the city commission which died for a lack of a second to a motion, several spoke out against the adoption of a regulation that could impose a mask order in Abilene and Dickinson County.

If approved, any county health officer written order could be enforced in Abilene’s municipal court.

Three sections of the code excluded from Uniform Public Offense Code are 10.29, 6.16 and 6.19.

Martin said the city of Abilene previously exempted 6.16 and 6.19 from the code.

One section deals with the giving of a worthless check.

“This will still be a crime under state law and could be prosecuted in district court by the county attorney,” Martin said. “By excluding it here, it would not be something that could be prosecuted in municipal court.”

He said the second section which was omitted is an uncommon crime which is equity skimming.

“When a bank forecloses on a mortgage, the homeowner is entitled to certain statutory protections,” he said.

The homeowner can stay in the house during the foreclosure and afterwards during a redemption period in which the homeowner can redeem the property.

He said equity skimming was the act of real estate investors buying property that was subject to a foreclosure and renting it and profiting off those laws that are designed to protect the homeowner.

“Buying it in the cheap while it is in the foreclosure process and then utilizing it to make a profit during that time period that is designed to protect the homeowner,” he said. “It is a crime under state law and adequate civil remedies.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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