More smoking ban news is making headlines—this time on a statewide level.
State Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, is pushing a bill through the state legislature that would place financial penalties on local counties and cities that enforce smoking bans.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Conay is trying to protect the rights of owners of bars, restaurants and other businesses to decide for themselves whether to allow smoking.
“If these municipalities and counties are going to hurt the income of small businesses, maybe their bottom line should be affected as well,” she told the Post-Dispatch.
Money generated from the bill—Hosue Bill 1021—would be handed over to the local school district.
The bill faces fierce opposition from anti-smoking groups and by Conway's own admittance has a "50-50 at best" chance of getting the green light from state lawmakers.
If the law were passed today, O'Fallon and Lake Saint Louis—the only two cities in St. Charles County to enforce smoking bans—would be the only towns to be fined.
O'Fallon began its smoking ban in June 2011 while Lake Saint Louis began enforcing its smoking ban in October 2010.
Currently, members of the St. Charles City Council are moving forward with an ordinance to ban smoking in the city. However, that law would likely give exemptions to businesses such as casinos, bars, bowling alleys and more.
No smoking ban exists on the St. Charles County-wide level, either. In September 2012, a county judge decided to pull a smoking ban measure off the ballot because of a wording snafu.
Meanwhile, a separate bill sponsored by State Rep. Bill Otto, D-St. Charles, would prohibit casinos from being subject to smoking laws that a casino within 75 miles are not subject to.
Similar to Conway's smoking ban bill, Otto's "fair play" bill also faces an uphill battle.
What do you think? Should the state impose a fine to cities or counties that enforce a smoking ban? Or is this a local issue that the state—or federal government—should not get involved with?