Bullitt Fiscal Court to Vote on Smoking Ban Ordinance

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THE COURIER JOURNAL | BAILEY LOOSEMORE | DECEMBER 30, 2013

A proposed ordinance banning smoking in all government buildings would overrule a Board of Health regulation currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court, Bullitt County attorney Monica Robinson said. The ban would not apply to private property or buildings — unlike the Board of Health ban, which, if approved by the Supreme Court, would outlaw smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants.

Bullitt Fiscal Court could vote on the proposed ordinance Jan. 7. The ordinance also says all other ordinances, resolutions and administrative regulations inconsistent with it would be repealed. That would include the ban the Bullitt County Board of Health passed in March 2011.

Margaret Miller, attorney for the Board of Health, declined to comment on the ordinance’s effects because of the pending lawsuit.

Bullitt Fiscal Court and the eight cities within the county filed the lawsuit, claiming the health administrators did not have the power to enact such restrictions. Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress declared the public smoking ban unlawful, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned Burress’ ruling in November 2012. Bullitt County officials then appealed the second decision to the Supreme Court. Oral arguments for the case are yet to be set.

Supporters of the public smoking ban are worried the county ordinance will affect the outcome of the lawsuit, but Robinson said the case was never fully about smoking. “It’s two different questions, you all just see them closely related,” Robinson told Fiscal Court members at their Dec. 17 meeting when the proposed ordinance was discussed.

“But the issue before the Supreme Court, as far as we have always been concerned, has never been about smoking. It has been about who has the right to make a law: a legislative body or an administrative agency?”

Fiscal court members first approached the subject of banning smoking on government property at their Nov. 19 meeting, when resident Dorothy Biddle made a presentation. Robinson said no one had approached the county officials to ask for a smoking ban before then.

Read the full article online here.