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Less restrictive smoking ban remains on Nov. 6 ballot following Circuit Court Judge ruling

A proposal that would ban indoor smoking with no exemptions, which St. Charles County Elections Director Rich Chrismer earlier blocked from the Nov. 6 election ballot, will stay blocked based on a ruling by Circuit Court Judge Daniel Pelikan on Sept. 11.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote on a proposition approved on Aug. 27 by the County Council and sponsored by Councilmember Michael Klinghammer [District 5]. That amendment to the county charter would ban indoor smoking with exemptions, including allowing smoking on 50 percent of the floor area of the Ameristar Casino.

The proposition earlier rejected by Chrismer was brought forward by the Smoke Free St. Charles County Coalition, a consortium of 40 healthcare and nonprofit organizations, including the American Heart Association, which gathered more than 30,000 signatures on a petition to place it on the November ballot. Chrismer refused to place the proposition on the ballot, saying that, although a proper number of registered voters’ signatures were gathered, the group did not address how the amendment would be implemented and funded as required by the Missouri Constitution.

Pelikan ruled on a petition for emergency writ of mandamus to direct Chrismer to place the petition-supported proposition on the ballot. In his decision, he wrote that the writ fails “because they [the Coalition] have not established a clear, unequivocal and specific right to the CHC amendment placed on the November 1918 ballot.” Pelikan added that Chrismer “acted appropriately and within his authority” under the county charter.

After Chrismer’s action to ban Smoke Free charter amendment, the council approved two propositions on Aug. 27, including one sponsored by Councilmember Terry Hollander [District 5]. The proposition left on the ballot is the least restrictive of the two that the council had discussed.

In its original form, Hollander’s bill largely mimicked the strict proposition proposed by the Smoke Free coalition. Hollander bill was filed on Aug 27, the day before the deadline for placing issues on the November ballot. He said he wanted to give St. Charles County residents have a choice. However, Chrismer refused to place Hollander’s bill on the ballot and questioned whether the county followed its own procedures in approving Hollander’s bill. He said the council may have violated the state’s Sunshine Law because the measure wasn’t listed on the council’s agenda at least 24 hours before the Aug. 27 meeting.

Meanwhile, the Smoke Free St. Charles County Coalition said on its Facebook page that volunteers, coalition partners and staff are deeply disappointed by Pelikan’s ruling. “We remain committed to fighting for a smoke- free St. Charles County, and are weighing what comes next.”

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