Old Kansas City, Mo., laws, 'dead letters' hindering businesses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City is calling old and outdated laws still on the books “dead letters.”

Those laws, written for a different time, can unintentionally make life difficult for people, especially for new business start-ups.

The city wants the public to help change the old, antiquated laws and make them new. It's why this week, the city launched its Dead Letter Office.

It's a web-based avenue the public can now use to inform the city about old laws or ordinances on the books that they believe should be repealed.

The city is more than 150 years old and has written ordinances to address every political, social, economic and environmental crisis. But those laws may no longer be effective or practical in today's society.

There are so many written laws that even the city may not know they're still on the books until a citizen makes the city aware.

Some of the old laws can be a particular hindrance to new small business owners or new start-ups.

"We really need to be competitive locally and nationally," Assistant City Manager Rick Usher said.

John Couture opened his Waldo-based craft beer business, the Bier Station, about a year and a half ago. He dreamed of a craft beer business that not only served beer but also sold it in packages.

But he says he almost had to build his dream outside of Kansas City when he found out an old law on the books forbid his plan.

Couture made the city aware of his obstacles and city council members agreed to change the law. The city says Couture's Bier Station is already one of the top 100 craft beer businesses in the country.

Turns out what's good for business, is good for the city said Couture.

"There have been people move into the neighborhood because we're here. I've heard that from realtors and from people selling houses," Couture said.

To give the city your feedback about antiquated laws, head to its new website at www.kcmomentum.org.

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