August 12, 2005

Creeping totalitarianism?

Blago reluctantly signs bill which allows local governments to institute draconian smoking bans.
The governor's wrestling match with legislation allowing local smoking bans ended Wednesday when he approved the measure.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed House Bill 672 with two days left before the legislation would have become law without his action - and without the fanfare of an official bill-signing ceremony. Blagojevich had set anti-smoking advocates into a spin last month when he said he was "grappling" with making a decision on the legislation, citing the concerns of bar and restaurant owners who feared smokers would simply stay home if not allowed to light up. The governor previously had said he would sign the proposal.

A Blagojevich spokeswoman said scheduling conflicts prevented a signing ceremony but acknowledged that "the review on this bill took some time."

"He saw both sides of the issue," Rebecca Rausch said. "Ultimately, the governor felt it was important that local governments have the choice."

The House sponsor of the bill said she never doubted that Blagojevich would sign the measure.

"Obviously, you'd like to have the fanfare, but the most important thing is that municipalities have the choice," said Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood.

HB 672 revises the Illinois Clean Indoor Act of 1989, which generally requires that smoking be contained in designated areas at public locations and workplaces and prohibits cities from adding stricter regulations. When the law was enacted, only the 21 communities with existing clean-air ordinances were allowed to set local smoking policy.

Groups such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society have since lobbied for local control over indoor-air laws, citing the effects of second-hand smoke on restaurant and bar workers and nonsmokers.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, returns the choice to municipalities. Aldermen in both Chicago and Springfield have already proposed indoor smoking bans.

Here we go. The do-gooders will run wild. Good-bye personal choice. Forget about allowing business owners the choice of whether to accomodate both smokers and non-smokers or ban smoking altogether. Only non-smokers have rights apparently. Smokers, those much vilified demons, will eventually be exiled to Nome, Alaska.
What happened to compromise?


At 8/12/2005 5:34 AM, Blogger Dave Barrett said...

Well, this raises a difficulty with democracy that is seldom discussed -- at what level should the vote be taken -- precinct, ward, township, city, county, state, nation or world-wide? Whether conservative or liberal the answer seems to be which ever level will give you the results you want. During the 1960s the liberals thought that states should be overrulled by the nation on civil rights issues because they did not agreee with what southern state's actions on that issue. At that time conservatives claimed to be for state's rights.
Lately we have seen conservatives at the national level overruling the states on environmental and reglatory issues when they disagree with them.
Inside Dope, you say the bar or restaurant owner should be allowed to decide if smoking is allowed in his/her establishment. The governor says the local government should decide. The state government of California says they should decide. Which position you favor seems to depend not on your concept of democracy but on whether you want the places you are in to be smoke-free or not.

At 8/12/2005 8:55 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

I don't smoke now but as a former smoker I can live with designated smoking areas in bars and restaurants.


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