No approval needed for Madison to address codes

For at least five years, Madison has been looking to legislators for a bill that would minimize law enforcement intervention for code violations. Now it seems legislators are saying no bill is necessary.

In 2012, city officials were working hard to draft a local and private bill for legislators to review and approve. The bill would eliminate the need for police officers to enforce city codes, such as keeping lawns mowed or painting their homes.

That year, city attorney John Hedglin said the city wants to be able to send its own code-enforcement officers to issue citations for the violations, instead of having to enlist the police to arrest people.

“We wouldn’t have to get the arrest warrant and bring somebody in, do booking photos, set bond and everything. The code-enforcement officer could just issue a citation.”

Recently, Hedglin told the Sun that Madison introduced the bill again this year.

“It’s been introduced every year since it was first introduced.”

“At least since 2012,” said Kirk Thompson, special projects manager for Madison.

Now, legislators are saying the city doesn’t need a bill in order to not involve law enforcement.

“The code enforcement bill was aimed to make it easier for municipalities and property owners,” said Cory Wilson, District 73 representative. “But cities can work out code enforcement informally before they go to the municipal court docket.”

Wilson said, according to legislators that are also attorneys, cities have every right to send out informal letters and enter into a dispute process without going to court or using law enforcement to resolve the issue.

“We’ve been told by our legislators there are ways to do this now,” Thompson said.

Wilson said the bill has gone through a couple of different revisions since it was first introduced.

“We’ve worked with city folks and we’ve worked well in the legislative process to move the idea forward… Sometimes things need to go through the legislative process (more than once) before we end up with a final resolution.”

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