Douglas County commissioners will vote Wednesday on whether to exempt county-owned facilities from the state's new concealed-carry weapons law until at least Jan. 1, 2014.
Commissioners will discuss the county's options on the new concealed-carry law when they meet at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.
Without the exemption, a new law passed by the Legislature this year and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback would automatically take effect July 1, allowing people with permits to carry concealed handguns into a number of public facilities.
According to County Administrator Craig Weinaug, that would include the courthouse; all of the buildings at the county fairgrounds, including the Extension Office; the Public Works facility at 1242 Massachusetts St.; and the Lawrence-Douglas County health facility, 200 Maine St.
It would also apply to unrestricted access areas of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, and the juvenile detention facility, Weinaug said.
House Bill 2052, which Brownback signed April 16, expands the state's current concealed-carry law, officially known as the Personal and Family Protection Act.
Specifically, it mandates that most state and local government buildings must allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons into those buildings unless the governing bodies have put other "adequate security measures" in place to prevent anyone from carrying a weapon into the building.
Basically, that means the building must have metal detectors and security guards in place at all public entrances.
The law does not apply to public school districts, and it gives state colleges and universities an additional four years to come into compliance. It also does not apply to secure areas of local jails and law enforcement buildings, although it does apply to unsecured, open areas of those buildings.
The law also does not apply to the state Capitol in Topeka.
Local governments covered by the law may, however, exempt themselves until Jan. 1, 2014, by sending notice to the attorney general's office, as well as the local police and sheriff's departments.
Weinaug said the county may seek an additional four-year exemption by adopting a resolution or sending a letter detailing the reasons why a particular building should be exempt. To qualify, though, the county would have to develop “a security plan that supplies adequate security to the occupants of the building and merits the prohibition of the carrying of a concealed handgun,” the law states.
He said the initial six-month exemption is fairly automatic, but the additional four-year exemption will require state approval.
Weinaug added that the city of Lawrence is conducting a similar review of security in all of its buildings. The city and county also were already conducting a joint security review at the city-county health facility before the new law was passed, he said.
In other business, commissioners will:
• Consider granting a special events permit for the commemoration of the 157th anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at the Battlefield and Nature Park, 163 East 2000 Road.
• Discuss, and possibly render a decision, regarding a fence dispute between two property owners in southern Douglas County, north of Baldwin City.
• And consider a proposal to authorize no-interest loans to the Eudora, Lecompton and Wakarusa Township fire departments to purchase radio equipment required to operate with the county's new upgraded radio system.