FactFinder 12: City ordinance related to political signs appears to conflict with state law

HAYSVILLE, Kan. A question in Haysville comes after some say the city is pulling political signs out of the ground. The question is over a state law that appears to be in conflict with city law.

One political sign on Haysville City Council member Russ Kessler's property isn't the first sign this year, but it's the first one he says has stayed in his yard.

"I know several people had their signs pulled during (the) primary election," Russ Kessler said. "I was one of them."

The City of Haysville passed an ordinance last year putting political signs under the category of "temporary signs." That change means political signs can only be in yards for 14 days prior to an election. All temporary signs have that same maximum.

The problem with the ordinance is a Kansas statute says no city or county can regulate or prohibit the placement or number of political signs during the 45-day period prior to elections, except for concerns relating to the size of the signs and safety.

The problem made its way to the Kansas vice chair of elections, Rep. Blake Carpenter.

"The state law is very clear on this, and it says 45 days before an election you can have a sign in your yard and then two days after an election, you can still have that sign in your yard," Carpenter says. "So I think the city ordinance needs to be updated back to what it seemed like it used to be and it used to have those provisions in there."

Kessler brought up the issue in August, but at that time, Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong dismissed it.

"We haven't looked any further at this point," Armstrong said. "Didn't seem to be a problem on this election we had, so we haven't discussed it any more at this point."

Kessler disagrees, saying the ordinance's apparent conflict with state law is a problem.

Armstrong's staff Tuesday, issued a statement in response to a request for an interview with the mayor. The statement reads, "The Haysville sign code is content neutral on its face and complies with applicable law."

One question FactFinder 12 has for the mayor is how a 14-day restriction complies with a 45-day state law.