Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Very short notice for smoking ban hearing


The chairman of the state Senate Health Committee that I serve on, state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) has barely given 24 hours notice that the committee will hold a public hearing on a proposed statewide smoking ban Tuesday at the state Capitol.

A hearing on an issue of this magnitude and public interest should have been given far more advance notice.

Why the short notice from Senator Erpenbach? Did he, knowing that he’d give as little notice as possible to announce the hearing, intentionally stack the deck by informing organized supporters of the ban about the hearing? Did he conveniently fail to give the same courtesy to organized opponents?

He has to answer those questions. 

As of this post and with less than 24 hours until the hearing, the bill is still not available on the State Legislature website.

Here is an analysis of the smoking ban bill, Senate Bill 181, from the Legislative Reference Bureau:

Current law prohibits smoking in mass transit vehicles and specific enclosed, indoor locations, including the following:

1. Inpatient health care facilities, such as community based-residential facilities and nursing homes.

2. Prisons and jails.

3. Retail establishments.

4. Restaurants.

5. Governmental buildings.

Except for hospitals, school buses, day care centers where children are present, and a few other places, a smoking area at an indoor location may be designated by the person who is in charge of that location. For example, the person in charge of a business is the owner of the business and the person in charge of a prison is the state secretary of corrections.

Under the bill, smoking areas at indoor locations may no longer be designated resulting in a complete ban on indoor smoking at those locations with exceptions for
private residences, a limited number of designated rooms in lodging establishments, and certain residence rooms in assisted living facilities. In addition to the specified indoor locations listed under current law, the bill prohibits smoking in any public place or place of employment.

The bill defines “a place of employment” to be any
indoor place that employees normally frequent during the course of employment, such as an office, a work area, an employee lounge, a restroom, a conference room, a meeting room, a classroom, or a hallway. The bill also defines a “public place” to be a place that is open to the public, regardless of whether a fee is charged or a place to which the public has lawful access or may be invited. In addition, the bill defines an “enclosed place” for purposes of determining at what locations smoking is prohibited. An enclosed place must have a roof and at least two walls.

Current law provides exemptions from the prohibition against smoking for bowling centers, taverns, halls used for private functions, rooms in which the main occupants are smokers, and areas of facilities that are used to manufacture or assemble goods, products, or merchandise. This bill eliminates these exemptions.

Current law allows smoking in any restaurant that has a seating capacity of 50 individuals or less, or that holds a liquor license, if the sale of alcohol beverages accounts for more than 50 percent of the restaurant’s receipts. This bill prohibits smoking in any restaurant regardless of seating capacity or the number of liquor sale receipts.

Current law allows smoking in any tavern holding a “Class B” intoxicating liquor license or Class “B” fermented malt beverages license issued by a municipality.This bill prohibits smoking in any tavern. The bill also specifically prohibits smoking in private clubs.

Under current law, smoking is prohibited outside in limited instances. These include within a certain distance of the state capitol building, dormitories that are owned or operated by the University of Wisconsin, and day care centers where children are present. This bill makes no changes to these specific prohibitions, but adds a general prohibition against smoking outside within less than a reasonable distance from any entrance into a building, an openable window, or a ventilation opening that draws air inside. The bill also specifically prohibits smoking in sports arenas and bus shelters, regardless of whether they meet the definition of “enclosed place.”

urrent law does not limit the authority of any county, city, village, or town to enact smoking ordinances that protect the public’s health and comfort. This bill makes no change in this provision.

This bill requires that persons in charge of places where smoking is prohibited enforce the prohibitions by taking certain steps to ensure compliance, such as asking a person who is smoking to leave and refusing to serve the person if the place is a restaurant, tavern, or private club. This bill imposes forfeitures on persons in charge who fail to take these measures.

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