CLAYTON, MO (KMOX)-Some heated comments at the St. Louis County Council meeting Tuesday night, as the panel advanced a bill that would amend the voter-approved indoor smoking ban, by allowing smoking in casino bars.
By a 4-3 vote the council “perfected” the measure, setting it up for final approval as soon as next week.
Speaking against the bill, Council Chairwoman Barbara Fraser argued that the county’s citizens made their intentions clear when they approved the indoor smoking ban by a 65% to 35% margin, “For this council to undermine that intention would certainly not be a preference.”
The bill’s sponsor, Kathleen Kelly Burkett argued that the bill does not weaken the ban, a position backed by County Counselor Patricia Reddington.
Reddington told the council, “A drinking establishment was defined as one who got a liquor license from the Department of Revenue. The casinos came in and pointed out that their licence, in fact, was issued by the Gaming Commission and said that’s a trivial difference and can we get an exemption anyway? We said, ‘ no, we’re going to read this literally and the ordinance has to be changed.'”
Reddington called the change “trivial”.
Fraser says it is not a trivial issue, and it will weaken the legislation, “The fact that the people of our community have voted for this particular legislation and that this council would consider weakening it is very detrimental to the intent of our community which is to eliminate smoking in all workplaces and places of business of any sort in the county.”
The bill could come up for final approval next week, but it may not. Because of the holidays, next week’s council meeting has been moved up to Monday afternoon. A bill cannot come up for final passage for at least seven days after being perfected, unless seven council members agree to change the rules.
The smoking ban takes effect in January.
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