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Well, it looks like the petition effort intended to allow smoking in over 21 venues, which received heavy funding from the Ameristar Casino, has actually failed to make it onto the November ballot. It’s nice to see pro-tobacco interests get a black eye instead of having the opportunity to blacken non-smokers’ lungs. The report below is from yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A good report also appeared in the on-line St. Charles Patch, titled “Casino-Backed Smoking Ban Won’t Be On November Ballot” by reporter Kalen Ponche.
Petition for St. Charles County smoking ban falls short
By Russell Korando > firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 12:00 am |
The number of smoking bans that might appear on St. Charles County’s Nov. 6 ballot has been cut from two to one.
For now, at least, a single proposal remains in play after the county elections director determined a political action committee’s petition drive fell short of the signatures needed to place the group’s own proposition on the ballot.
The County Council could vote Monday night on whether to send a county charter amendment proposed by Councilman Joe Cronin, R-District 1, to the voters. Charter amendments need approval by a simple majority of voters. The deadline to certify the ballot is Aug. 28.
Cronin proposes to ban smoking in most indoor public places, including bars and restaurants, but exempt casinos, private clubs with no employees and retail tobacco stores.
Cronin, who twice previously tried to put a countywide smoking ban on the ballot, recently introduced his third attempt after the Committee for Economic Liberty submitted petitions for a smoking ban. The committee proposed a charter amendment that would have exempted businesses such as casinos and bars where customers must be at least 21 years old, and any business with a ventilated area that separates smokers from non-smokers.
The committee, headed by former state Rep. Carl Bearden, needed at least 18,522 signatures of registered county voters. Of the 22,850 signatures turned in, only 14,801 are valid, elections Director Rich Chrismer said Thursday. Of those who signed, 4,712 were not registered voters and 1,085 gave the wrong address. Another 1,680 signatures were invalid, and 571 names were duplicated.
Bearden, who also is a former county councilman, said he wants the petitions back so his group can look at the invalid signatures and use the valid signatures as a base from which to start if the committee decides to circulate a petition for the election next April.
“I’ll talk to coalition members and go over what the issues are with the current signatures,” Bearden said Thursday. “We believe our proposal is a balanced approach to solving this problem.”
Chrismer said the county counselor’s office informed him the signatures are now county property and Bearden’s group can’t have them back. The committee would have to start from scratch to petition for a later election, Chrismer said.
Bearden disagrees. “The (county) charter provides no time limit on those signatures,” Bearden said. “So we believe that’s the case. We never look at litigation as our first course of action. We try to find ways to make things work.”