State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford, who has been very active on this issue in the House, started the media buzzing about the ADA complaint filed against the State Capitol in Jefferson City when she forwarded a letter prepared by Mr. Billy Williams for Ms. Rossie Judd yesterday.
Since then a lot has appeared in the media, some already noted on this blog. Immediately below is Rep. Oxford’s media alert and below that a Press Release distributed later by Missouri GASP on the same subject.
From: Jeanette Oxford
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:15 AM
To: Jeanette Oxford
Subject: citizen has filed ADA complaint about smoking in the Capitol Building
Members of the Capitol Media:
I have received the message below and these attachments indicating that Rossie Judd of Fenton, MO has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint about tobacco smoke in the Capitol Building. In speaking with Billy Williams at 214-226-2117, I learned that, if the complaint is either not processed or denied, it will then be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.
I do continue to believe that the Missouri Capitol Building should be 100% smokefree. The inconvenience of having to go outside this building to smoke is minimal if it can prevent an asthma attack or heart attack and possibly even save a life. It is also very important that we set a good example, as well as protect the health, of the thousands of school children who tour this building annually.
In the debate on House Rules on January 13, House members voted to end smoking in the members’ lounge area behind the chamber. The Rules do not affirmatively state that we may smoke in our offices, but some members have long asserted their right to do so. The amendment I offered sought to establish the House as 100% smokefree, and, if passed, I had hoped House leadership would then advocate the same policy in the Senate.
It was unfortunate that Majority Floor Leader Jones signaled that all GOP members were to vote no instead of allowing each member to vote his or her own conscience on this matter. I had received enough support from GOP members for the motion to have carried if it had not turned into a partisan vote. Perhaps that would not have happened if Rep. Jones had been in when Rep. Ellinger, Rep. May and I went to his office on Jan. 11. I believe Rep. Jones may have simply seen my amendment as part of the wrangling that the majority and minority do about the Rules when it was really a bi-partisan public health matter. I should have followed up with Rep. Jones to make sure he understood that distinction, but we juggle a lot of competing priorities as legislators, and I simply ran out of time to do so.
A previous ADA complaint resulted in guidance about where smoking may occur and where it may not, but much has been learned about the dangers of secondhand smoke that was not known when that agreement was reached(in 1999 I believe). When you add what we are also now learning about “thirdhand smoke” (chemical residue in carpeting, drapes, clothing, etc.), it is hard to justify allowing smoking in any workplace that is not truly private and used only by the smoker him/herself.
Jeanette Mott Oxford
State Representative, 59th MO House District
2910 Lemp, St. Louis, MO 63118
573-751-4567 (Jefferson City)
314-771-8882 (St. Louis)
Text of Missouri GASP’s Press Release:
Please contact: Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP [Group Against Smoking Pollution] Inc.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 St. Louis, Missouri.
Other contact information:
Mr. Billy Williams 1-972-353-8764
Ms. Rossie Judd 1-636-575-4895
PRESS RELEASE: Ms. Rossie Judd files ADA complaint aimed at making Missouri House smoke-free;
Alleges present policy allowing smoking in legislator’s offices denies her access.
Following the failure of efforts via House Rules by Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford to make the House side of the State Capitol smoke-free, an ADA complaint has just been filed with the entities controlling the House with the same objective.
The complaint was submitted on Monday, January 24, 2011, to Mr. Keith Sappington, ADA Coordinator for the House of Representatives, on behalf of Ms. Rossie Judd, an asthmatic and former assembly line employee at the Daimler-Chrysler minivan plant in Fenton. Copies were sent to Mr. D. Adam Crumbliss, Chief Clerk to the House, and Speaker Steven Tilley.
Judd succeeded in getting the Fenton plant to go entirely smoke-free in 2004 after pursuing discrimination complaints with federal agencies, assisted by Williams and Missouri GASP.
Since then Judd has been diagnosed as suffering from asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic bronchitis, and chemical sensitivity and is now receiving Social Security disability.
This latest complaint against the Missouri State Capitol was filed on behalf of Judd by Mr. Billy Williams, in collaboration with Mr. Martin Pion.
Williams, a retired PanAm airline mechanic, is Executive Director of GASP of Texas. He maintains a website devoted to the issue of secondhand smoke and relevant ADA case law at http://www.gaspoftexas.com/.
Pion is president of Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution), a St. Louis-based not-for-profit grass roots advocacy group in existence since 1984. He is now semi-retired and formerly a scientist working initially in the field of optical fibers and later at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., in laser diode space communications.
The success in the Daimler-Chrysler minivan plant in Fenton came after battling one of the largest automakers in the U.S. and one of the most powerful unions, the UAW, which was fighting to maintain smoking. It led to both Judd and Missouri GASP receiving recognition from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute in Miami Beach, Florida, at its Third Annual Scientific Symposium in May, 2004.
Pion and Williams have collaborated for many years, filing ADA complaints on behalf of individuals suffering from breathing disabilities caused or exacerbated by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was the target of such a complaint, filed in 1994. Smoking was severely curtailed in 1997 when it was restricted to newly-opened separately ventilated smoking rooms. It became totally smoke-free on January 2nd, 2011, by St. Louis City ordinance.
Two similar ADA complaints have been filed against the State Capitol, both indirectly and directly by Missouri GASP, the second resulting in a February 5th, 1999, Memorandum of Agreement with the House, Senate, and Office of Administration, requiring that all public areas in the State Capitol be smoke-free but continuing to allow smoking in members’ personal offices. (Please see attachment.)
All other state owned and/or occupied office buildings are smoke-free. Legislators should be treated the same as everyone else.