On a relatively light Jacksonville City Council agenda Tuesday evening, one can expect spirited discussion on a bill designed to make all city property “hit-free zones.”

Resolution 2018-171 would support policy designating city property “hit free zones.” It would create “areas in which no adult shall hit another adult, no adult shall hit a child, no child shall hit an adult, and no child shall hit another child.”

Many would say that such violence is already illegal under the aegis of laws banning assault and battery. Discussion in Council committees last week revealed that one of the issues that the resolution seeks to stem would be impromptu corporal punishment in public spaces.

At the bill’s first committee stop last week, sponsor Garrett Dennis said the bill “supports the culture of safety” in Jacksonville, advising that “discipline … in a public place” is inappropriate.

The bill, per Dennis, is supported by the State Attorney’s Office and other community stakeholders.

Costs for this program, which would involve installation of smaller signs or posters, are unknown. Also unknown: the unintended consequences for employees having to referee interactions between consumers of city services and their children.

Both committees of reference passed the measure, but in each panel, votes were not unanimous, and concerns were raised about what was framed as a less-than-fleshed out piece of legislation.

In Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health & Safety, Council members had qualms about impacts ranging from costs to imposing another burden on an overstretched workforce, before a 6-1 vote in favor of the measure.

In Finance, which bill sponsor Dennis chairs, the road was no less rocky toward a 5-2 vote in favor, with Council members discussing how they punished their kids in years gone by.

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