2011/02/04 Springfield News-Leader: “Complaint filed over smoking at Capitol”

The following story a couple of days ago in the Springfield News-Leader is keeping the spotlight on smoking in legislator’s offices in the State Capitol. It includes a useful quote in response to the ADA complaint from Adam Crumbliss, the chief clerk of the Missouri House:

“House staff will accommodate people with disabilities who provide accommodation information.”

Ms. Rossie Judd wouldn’t need to provide any kind of notice regarding her disability or have a problem accessing the State Capitol and legislator’s offices if it were totally smoke-free.

The Background in a sidebar to the story, appended below, alludes to MoGASP’s earlier prolonged effort to make the State Capitol smoke-free, which resulted in a Memorandum of Agreement with the House, Senate and Office of Administration, dated February 5, 1999 (reproduced below).

Photos of Rossie Judd and Billy Williams: Martin Pion, MoGASP.

Complaint filed over smoking at Capitol
Fenton resident contends that she is being denied access due to her health.
Feb. 4, 2011
By Meghann Mollerus
State Capitol Bureau
Springfield News Leader

Jefferson City — Legislators smoking in their state Capitol building offices has prompted a federal complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
         Rossie Judd from Fenton filed the federal complaint after the House on Jan. 13 rejected a ban on smoking in private offices.

Ms. Rossie Judd at St. Louis County Health Dept., Clayton, July 2004

          Judd says due to her health, she is being denied access to the Capitol.
In a statement to Keith Sappington, the ADA coordinator for the House, Judd said she has been disabled under the Social Security Act because of her asthma and chronic bronchitis, and thus qualifies as a person with a disability under the ADA.
         “I allege that the House of Representatives’ smoking policy has a disparate impact on the breathing disabled,” Judd wrote in her complaint. “I allege that I am being denied meaningful access to the House of Representatives as a result of its policy that allows members to smoke in their offices.”

Mr. Billy Williams at Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute Awards Ceremony, Miami Beach, FL, May 2004

         Judd is working with Billy Williams and an anti-smoking advocacy organization called Gasp of Texas.
         Williams, located in the state of Texas, has helped Judd since she initially filed a smoking complaint against the Chrysler plant in Fenton in 2003, where she worked for eight years.
         Williams says federal law requires a prompt response by the government to a disabilities complaint.
         Williams said if he does not receive a response from Sappington by Tuesday about smoking in House offices, he will send the complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Adam Crumbliss, Chief Clerk, Missouri House, 2011

         The chief clerk of the Missouri House, Adam Crumbliss, said Judd is not being denied access to the House. He says House staff will accommodate people with disabilities who provide accommodation information. According to Crumbliss, Judd did not provide details of her disability needs prior to filing the ADA complaint.

“Memorandum of Agreement” relating to smoking in the State Capitol mentioned in the background sidebar to the above story, appended below.

Memo of Agreement between MoGASP and the entities controlling the State Capitol, Feb. 5, 1999


Click the above image repeatedly to enlarge.

Background

The proposed change in House rules to ban office smoking was sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Oxford, D-St. Louis. She said that if her amendment had passed, she hoped the House would advocate the same policy in the Senate. The House defeated Oxford’s amendment 113-45.
         Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, said Republicans voted no on the amendment because there are already smoking rules in place, including a compromise passed on Jan. 13 to ban smoking in a private room behind the House chamber.
         Other rules about smoking have been in place since both the House and Senate enacted a Memorandum of Agreement in February 1999. It requires that all public areas will be smoke free, including hallways, the rotunda, meeting rooms, chambers, restrooms, the cafeteria and elevators.
         Additionally, it said all staff offices open to the public are designated as non-smoking.
         Areas of the Capitol under control of the executive branch are completely smoke-free, except for a designated smoking area in a far corner of the basement garage.

4 responses to “2011/02/04 Springfield News-Leader: “Complaint filed over smoking at Capitol”

  1. Mogasp, since this is a separate post on exactly the same subject, I think it’s proper to make a short recap of my position: If the House must universally change to accommodate Ms. Judd’s unusual sensitivity to smoke, then it must also universally change to accommodate others’ sensitivities to such things as roses and cat dander on the representatives’ clothing. It should also divide its office hours equally between day and night to provide equal access to those with extreme xeroderma pigmentosum.

    Yes, I am fully aware those are not part of MoGasp’s concerns, but if we are arguing this issue on the basis of simple human rights they are certainly part of that area of concern.

    – MJM

  2. The amount of smoke Ms. Judd might be exposed to is too small to deny her “meaningful access to the House of Representatives.” One has to wonder if her ill reaction to smoke isn’t in part psychosomatic. Does the ADA recognize psychosomatic disabilities? Will someone next use this legislation to ban wearing perfume and cologne in the House by lawmakers and their staff? Some people are very sensitive to fragrances and might soon use the ADA to make the House fragrance-free.

    mogasp reply: I don’t know if fragrance sensitivity is covered by the ADA but in any case that’s a separate issue. Given that all other Missouri government buildings are smoke-free why should legislators be allowed to exempt themselves?

  3. Mogasp wrote, ” Given that all other Missouri government buildings are smoke-free why should legislators be allowed to exempt themselves?”

    And on THAT point Mogasp, I think you and I agree entirely. That would be a far better basis of argument for such a ban than the ADA.

    Heh… of course I might prefer to argue that it be turned in the other direction…

    ;>
    MJM

  4. Before even entering this issue, take a quick “course” in “Smoking 101” at http://fauxbacco.blogspot.con

    Think it’s tobacco smoke, as they say? Think again.
    How many legislators economically linked to Big Cig hoping to blame victims and tobacco plants (“acts of God”) for effects of highly contaminated smoking products?
    How many officials linked to pharmaceutical competitors to public-domain tobacco?
    Has anyone asked if the smoke in question if actually smoke from the tobacco plant? (No law requires tobacco in a cigarette.)
    Was the smoke scientifically determined to be tobacco smoke? One must at least ask.

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