IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-The Idaho Falls City Council has unanimously approved amendments to the city’s 2013 Nondiscrimination Ordinance.
The original ordinance was intended to prohibit discrimination in the city based upon a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. It focused on areas of housing and employment, but excluded accommodations.
You can view the document here.
The amendments will extend the nondiscrimination regulations to include places of public accommodation and use. The amendment also includes some definitions and exemptions clarifying the rights of employers and employees. It also includes nonbinding mediation as a tool to resolve reported discrimination. It could carry fines for people who knowingly violate its provisions, but no jail time.
Mayor Rebecca Casper said a campaign against the proposal generated around 200 comments in the two days leading up to the vote.
Casper explained that the May vote was publicly announced in January and that amendments to existing ordinances do not require a public hearing. She stated that no constitutional rights were violated.
Council member Michelle Ziel-Dingman addressed the concerns of those who feared abuse of the ordinance. She stressed that crime is still a crime, voyeurism is still against the law, and the ordinance is carefully crafted so that it would not become a conduit for lawsuits.
She said the city action would also help address the concerns expressed by some of the state’s largest employers, including the INL, after the Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 500, which banned transgender participation in school sports, and House Bill 509, which banned changes in birth certificate gender markers.
City councilmen stated the purpose of the Idaho Falls ordinance was to promote equal protection under the law.