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St. Charles County Council Keeps Original Ballot Wording for Smoking Ban

Councilman Joe Cronin called a second version with exceptions "weak and watered down."

(The following press release was issued by the St. Charles County Council.)

The St. Charles County Council, at a special meeting Saturday morning, decided to stand by its original bill calling for a charter amendment in the form of a ballot proposition concerning a countywide ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

The Council considered a new bill that would have changed the ballot language to merge the smoking ban with three exceptions: places requiring patrons and employees to be age at least 21 years of age, private clubs, and 20 percent of hotel rooms.

Councilman Joe Cronin, the sponsor of both the original and second bill, said the Council did a lot of “soul-searching” and came to the conclusion that passing “something that was weak and watered down made no sense.”

So, after meeting for two hours Saturday, the Council decided to take no action on the second bill and withdrew it from the floor.

Elections Director Rich Chrismer said last week that the language on the original smoking ban bill was too confusing and he announced he would not put it on the November ballot.

That bill would have allowed voters to decide if they wanted a smoking ban in enclosed public places and, if so, should exemptions be granted. It gave the voters the power to choose both issues, Cronin said.

“Mr. Chrismer effectively took that choice from the voters,” Cronin said.

Council Chair Nancy Matheny said, “We felt good about allowing the voters to make those decisions. We do not believe Rich Chrismer was right in taking that right away from the people, and we ask him to reconsider and put it on the ballot.”

Matheny said the Council would not file a lawsuit against the Election Authority to try and get the bill on the Nov. 6 ballot.

She said that would be “distasteful.”

“Filing such a lawsuit would not only damage the relationships between county elected officials, who need to work together, but could also cost the taxpayers a great deal of money,” Matheny said, adding that outside legal counsel would have to be retained.

The county has already been forced to hire outside legal counsel to represent the Election Authority on other issues involving Chrismer.

Cronin said the smoking ban proposition could still be on the ballot if another organization “interested in clean air in St. Charles County” would sue the Election Authority and get a court to overrule Chrismer’s decision.

Kathy Chesher September 17, 2012 at 05:06 PM
If the wording on this two-part ballot issue is so sloppy that voters can't understand how to vote on it, then it should not be on the ballot. If you are in favor of a smoking ban, do you vote yes on the first issue, and if you are against exemptions, do you vote no on the second issue? Or, if you are in favor of a ban, but also in favor of exemptions, do you vote yes and yes? If you are totally against smoking bans, do you vote no and then leave the second issue blank???? There are too many unanswered questions. What is the rush in pushing this through onto the November 6 ballot? Give the voters more time to analyze the pros and cons of this issue, and fix the confusing wording of these charter amendments before putting it up for a vote.
katie September 21, 2012 at 04:36 PM
How long do you need to word it. How about: If you are in favor of a smoking ban, vote yes on the first issue, and if you are against exemptions, vote no on the second issue You've only had a year to figure this out folks. REALLY. How about we take the casino lobbying out fo the picture and see how simple it gets how fast.
The Missourian September 24, 2012 at 09:24 PM
^ +1
Sue September 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM
We need to get smoke out of our public places. This delay is ridiculous.

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