By Arek Sarkissian II
October 30, 2013
The Leon County Commission unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday that will make it easier for people with disabilities to purchase gas.
The ordinance will go into effect in 90 days and requires gas stations in Leon County to display stickers providing a store telephone number on each pump so customers with disabilities can call an attendant for help. Also, stations that are new, remodeled or existing and with 10 or more fueling pumps are required to retrofit at least two with a wireless system that alerts attendants.
The ordinance was a triumphant conclusion for disability consultant J.R. Harding, who had been lobbying the commission for the ordinance since November. On Tuesday, he said it was fitting the panel voted in favor of the ordinance in October, which is Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“During our month, they actually voted unanimously to support independence, service and dignity at the gas station for folks with disabilities,” Harding said. “I think this is a great step and a step that is going to put Leon County on the map.”
Shortly before the vote, Commissioner Bryan Desloge made a successful motion to double the 90-day grace period, which would not make the ordinance active until the end of next year’s legislative session.
“I think the ordinance has some flaws in it, and I think it’s very well intended,” Desloge said. “But there are some unintended consequences out there; some potential station owners who are forced to buy this equipment and really never be able to use it.” The Commission also unanimously approved to continue exploring an ordinance that would require individual gun sellers at gun shows to put purchasers through the same background check and three-to-five-day grace period as licensed dealers. Commissioner Kristin Dozier said she would be supportive of such an ordinance but was concerned it would be in violation of state law already on the books.
“I would definitely say I’m cautiously optimistic,” Dozier said.
County Attorney Herb Thiele said the Florida Constitution allows narrow room for the changes. “The constitution supersedes state law in this case,” Thiele said. The proposed ordinance is expected for more discussion in January.