Lenexa council will consider non-discrimination, hate crime crime ordinances at meeting Tuesday

Lenexa Mayor Michael Boehm directed city staff to draft a non-discrimination ordinance for consideration in August. File photo.

Lenexa city leaders on Tuesday will formally take up consideration of a nondiscrimination ordinance with protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Additionally, the council is set to consider measures that would extend protections under the city’s hiring policies as well as a hate crime ordinance “enhancing penalties for conviction when a targeted bias is present.”

If Lenexa adopts an NDO, then it would become the second largest city in Johnson County to do so. Shawnee and Leawood both recently adopted their own NDOs, though reactions to the processes in each city were notably different. In Shawnee, consideration of the NDO brought out large crowds of supporters and opponents. In Leawood, the NDO was considered and approved with no vocal opposition at the council meetings.

In March, Lenexa passed a non-binding resolution affirming its opposition to discrimination of any kind. Lenexa city leaders revisited the subject again behind closed doors last month to discuss legal issues related to a nondiscrimination ordinance — on the same night the Shawnee council had its first marathon meeting to discuss adopting an NDO.

During an executive session Aug. 13, Lenexa Mayor Michael Boehm directed city staff to prepare a nondiscrimination ordinance for review. City Attorney Cindy Harmison said the drafted ordinance is “very similar” to ordinances passed by city leaders in Shawnee, Roeland Park and Leawood.

The hate crime ordinance up for consideration tomorrow night “enhances penalties” for crimes in the city that show a victim was intentionally targeted based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Perpetrators could be penalized with a minimum $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail for a first offense, and a minimum $250 fine and/or a minimum of three days in jail for a subsequent offense.

Roeland Park was the first city in northeast Johnson County to adopt an NDO in 2014. Several other cities in northeast Johnson County have passed their own ordinances since that time, including Prairie Village, Mission, Merriam, Westwood Hills, Mission Woods, Mission Hills, Leawood and Shawnee.

Earlier this month, Overland Park officials discussed the possible adoption of an NDO and heard from more than 50 people in a community development committee meeting.