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Council OKs Dropping Three-Readings Rule — for Some Resolutions

Ordinance only applies to resolutions of an "impermanent character." Think awards and donations.

On Monday, passed an ordinance that brings its rules on voting in line with the city’s charter.

Council unanimously OK’d a measure that will allow it to vote on resolutions without three readings — as long as the resolution is “not of a permanent character.”

But little is expected to change the way council handles its business. In fact, city council has always had the ability to suspend the rules to vote on an issue on first reading if it was deemed necessary.

At-large councilman Ryan Nowlin, who introduced the ordinance, said that in addition to course-correcting the city’s charter, the measure will save money, paper and time.

“The important thing about this piece of legislation is that it is bringing our codified ordinances in line with the charter — and the charter is the highest law of the land in our city,” he said. “The charter says that those kinds of resolutions can be passed in one reading.”

Among the issues the measure is intended for: Recognizing citizens, awards, acceptance of a grant, application or donation.

“They are impermanent,” Nowlin said. “They don’t affect substantive change, and if they did we would have to have three readings.”

“This council is extremely committed to transparency and making sure that the public has an opportunity to weigh in. This (ordinance) doesn’t veer from the that.”

There has been some chatter around town that the legislation limits public involvement.

“If that’s the argument, then that’s OK, but I don’t agree with it,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler. “My thought is that these charters were written a long time ago, when access to public information was a lot scarcer. That’s when these three-readings rules were invented. I don’t believe those rules were put in place to ensure that legislation was read three times.”

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