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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Ordinance that would regulate peddlers 'tabled'

  • A confusing and seemingly contradictory ordinance that was meant to make it difficult for out-of-towners to sell products and services door-to-door in Rolla was tabled Monday night.
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  • A confusing and seemingly contradictory ordinance that was meant to make it difficult for out-of-towners to sell products and services door-to-door in Rolla was tabled Monday night.
    "I make a motion to table," said Councilman Tony Bahr after a discussion about whether or not Girl Scouts could sell cookies without breaking the law.
    Councilwoman Sue Eudaly reminded Bahr that a motion to table would mean it couldn't be brought up again while a motion to "set aside" would mean it could.
    "Oh, darn the luck," said Bahr, and he declined to restate the motion. "I don't want it brought up."
    The motion passed with no dissenting votes voiced.
    Regulating "peddlers, solicitors and canvassers" was discussed at length at the meeting two weeks ago, and the consensus of the council seemed to be then that an ordinance regulating those door-to-door salesmen and surveyors would be welcome.
    City Administrator John Butz brought such an ordinance to the council Monday night, but not all council members were happy about it.
    "I wonder if we're trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer," said Councilman Brian Woolley.
    He said Rolla residents already have "a lot of government in our lives" and this adds more. In addition, he said, if the intent is to protect residents from dishonest salesmen, the ordinance is ineffective.
    "Scammers are not going to apply" for the business license and undergo the background check, he said. They will merely arrive in town and start going from house to house looking for someone to prey upon.
    Moreover, he said, the ordinance lacks sufficient protection even if a person with a criminal background were to apply for a business license. "A convicted murderer could get a peddler's license," he said.
    On the other hand, he said, the provision in the ordinance that allows residents to sign a "no visit" list includes "canvassers" as well as "peddlers" and "solicitors." The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor for a canvasser, peddler or solicitor to knock on a door of a home where the resident has signed up for the "no-visit" list and hung a "no solicitations" sign on the door.
    The language of the ordinance seemed to include Girl Scouts, church groups and politicians. "They would technically commit a crime of trespassing," Woolley said.
    Councilman Kelly Long then moved the discussion to whether or not a business "with a local address" would have to apply for a "peddler's license" separate from their business license.
    Mayor Bill Jenks said the intent of the ordinance is to target out-of-town peddlers, not local businesses who might want to go door to door selling products or handing out coupons.
    "We definitely want to exclude local business from this (regulation)," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Councilman Don Morris said there was a provision that would exempt all non-profit groups, so the Girl Scouts and church groups would be safe.
    Others questioned that, given that another provision includes all canvassers.
    Woolley said he wanted to exclude canvassers from the ordinance, too.
    "I think we're making a mountain out of a molehill," said Councilman Jim Williams. He said he did not want to vote on the ordinance until he receives a list of the complaints the Rolla Police Department has received the last three years from residents who have been bothered or offended or threatened by door-to-door callers.
    About that time, amid all that, Bahr entered the motion to table.

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