Well, The State Might Repeal Kalamazoo’s Decriminalization Of Public Urination & Defecation
I don't know HOW or WHY... but the drama surrounding Kalamazoo's recent decriminalization of public Urination and Defecation has now come to a head at the state level.
A House Bill for the State of Michigan, if passed, could effectively reverse the decision Kalamazoo City Commissioners made in July.
Decriminalizing Pooping & Peeing in Public
In early July, a Kalamazoo City Commission meeting brought up a subject that has apparently been researched for quite some time - public urination and defecation - along with a number of other small offense misdemeanors.
The city wanted to decriminalize the act, as more often than not, it's a matter of just not being able to find a place to "go" before its too late, AND people who don't have the option of a readily available restroom at their disposal.
City Attorney Clyde Robinson provided some context:
"It's kind of crude, but we're a college town, and there's a lot of times drinking, and people can't seem to find a restroom. So public urination is no longer a misdemeanor, it's a civil infraction."
In addition, the city decriminalized littering, abandoning refrigerators and similar containers, inoperable or wrecked vehicles and parts, a smoking ban in parking ramps, and a restriction on use of barbed wire and electric fences.
But the only one everyone seems to want to talk about is "pooping & peeing in public."
The city passed the proposal, and from there, things got a bit hairy.
Did it become Legal to Poop & Pee in Public in Kalamazoo?
A THOUSANDS TIMES... NO!
It's only been downgraded from a misdemeanor - which would show up on a criminal record - to a civil infraction, that still comes with a ticket and fine. It does NOT, however, address public decency laws. So if you're "in the act," and someone sees you, then public indecency still applies.
The City has made strides to help curb the issue. Recently, they announced new locations for four new public restrooms in the downtown area. Final approval is expected to come some time this month, but they're also taking suggestions for desired features, such as family-sized restrooms, and self-cleaning models. They are NOT, however, considering temporary porta-potties as a solution.
But, regardless of what keeps having to be said over and over, people ran with the extreme side of the issue, and began loudly vocalizing their concerns.
Even so much, as that Fox News picked up the story and ran it nationally. They primarily focused on business owners in downtown who have experienced the unfortunate side of these incidents, but it was unclear when they may have occurred. Meaning, it's likely they happened before the proposal was even discussed openly at the commission meeting, let along after it was passed.
Nonetheless, it is still illegal to poop and pee in public, and police will still issue tickets and fines for incidents they see.
Could the State of Michigan Reverse This Decision?
In short, yes. House Bill 6367 was proposed state Legislators by District 63 Representative Matt Hall on Sept. 7th, and if passed, local governments that have ordinances on public decency could not repeal them. Specifically, the bill addressed public urination, defecation, AND littering.
Local governments that did approve similar ordinances after January 1 of this year, would be required to reinstate the previous version of the law.
That being said, it's actually not clear whether the state can REQUIRE local governments to enact a public decency ordinance. Similar Bills, though, have overridden local decisions in other areas, keeping some cities from imposing STRICTER standards.
For now, though, the decriminalized ordinance remains in place.