Boulder planning for implementation of Humane Clothing Act

·3 min read

Dec. 16—Boulder intends to rework some of the language of the Humane Clothing Act, a recently passed ballot issue that bans the manufacture and sale of fur products in the city.

It's also considering implementing an educational phase, in which city officials would create a webinar and a list of frequently asked questions for businesses that might be impacted by the fur ban.

This would postpone the Jan. 1 effective date of the measure and delay enforcement for a designated period of time — perhaps 60 days, though some City Council members suggested more — to give people time to get adjusted and to allow affected retailers to sell merchandise purchased before the measure passed.

"It's not uncommon for the city to provide the community with a period of time for education and warnings prior to enforcement of a new law," Deputy City Attorney Sandra Llanes said in Tuesday's Boulder City Council meeting.

When enforcement begins, stores that are not in compliance would receive warnings and later, tickets, Llanes said.

The language change, which would avoid a state law preemption, was requested by the petitioners, according to Llanes. The language as it's currently written could inadvertently include banning pelts from animals legally trapped in Colorado's wild places, a point originally made in a Daily Camera editorial.

The decision to delay enforcement was at least partially encouraged by local business owners worried about the impact of the new law on their stores, a number of whom spoke during open comment in Tuesday's Boulder City Council meeting.

"We know from our retailers that they must purchase inventory many months in advance," Jill Adler Grano, senior director for policy programs at the Boulder Chamber, said. "While this measure doesn't affect hundreds of our businesses, it does affect dozens of them. And each of those that we've talked to are small mom-and-pop businesses."

Catherine Leuenberger with Royal Stag Hats has been worried about the impact of the Humane Clothing Act on the business she and her husband run out of their home. However, they recently received word that their custom-made hats would not be subject to the fur ban.

"It is so hard to actually understand that from reading the measure," she said.

This brings up another point often made about the confusion around the language as it's currently written. For this reason, campaign organizers said they're very much in support of the educational period proposed by the city and believe it will help

Councilmember Matt Benjamin was part of a call in which he heard from the petitioners, and he emphasized their desire for collaboration with businesses and the city.

"They acknowledge that this measure was largely symbolic and they had zero intent to hurt any business," he said.

Campaign leader Brent Johannes confirmed this in a conversation after the City Council meeting concluded.

"We want to be cooperative with the needs and concerns of everyone in the community, and we don't think that enacting laws to protect animals has to be at odds with the needs of business owners," Johannes wrote in an email. "This grace period will allow any affected business to order alternative products to replace any items affected by the ban, to allow them to continue operating viably, and that seems fair."

Llanes said the City Attorney's Office is likely to bring back an amended ordinance for the City Council's consideration early in the new year.

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