At their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Porter County Commissioners will
consider an ordinance that would ban protests at funerals.
County Attorney Betty Knight said the language drafted in the ordinance is
similar to the ban that was approved by the Porter Town Council last week
which mimicked a law in Manchester, Mo. banning protests. According to the
proposed ordinance, no person shall engage in protest activities such as
picketing within 300 feet of a funeral or burial services within one hour
before or one hour after ceremonies.
The ordinance is narrowly drafted as a legitimate ďtime, place and manner
regulationĒ so it will not be in violation of a citizenís First Amendment
right to free speech and offers opportunities when someone can express their
views, Knight said.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld that the Manchester
law was constitutional because it was narrowly drafted, she said. Local
governments have sought bans in response to protests made by the Westboro
Baptist Church in the killings of American soldiers.
A violation of this ordinance can result in a fine of no more than $1,000
and/or up to three months imprisonment, the ordinance states.
The Commissioners will hold a first reading of the ordinance Tuesday with a
A second reading will take place at the April 16 Commissionersí meeting.
In other business, Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana will ask the Commissioners to
receive and open bids for the replacement of HVAC equipment at the County
Also, the Commissioners will hold a second reading on an ordinance to
restructure the Health Departmentís fee for death certificates from $7 to
$9. The Commissioners unanimously approved the measure on first reading
after closing the public hearing. Health board attorney David Hollenbeck
said the increase will boost funding for the Coronerís education fund.
Department heads coming before the commissioners to have them consider
agreements with consultants include County Recorder Jon Miller, Treasurer
Mike Bucko, Auditor Robert Wichlinski, and Plan Commission Director Robert
In Plan Commission business, the Commissioners will review the 30-year
development plan for 15 square miles surrounding the Porter Regional
Airport. The plan is to create a guide for growth and includes no rezoning.
Commissioners will meet at 1 p.m. in Suite 205 of the County Administration
Building located at 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.