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.
The state Senate Health Committee that I serve on conducted a hastily called public hearing today on a proposed statewide smoking ban. The public notice about the hearing was barely 24 hours.
Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson has stated he would support an exemption for cigar bars. A successful cigar bar that has invested heavily in their operation is in
At the opening of today's hearing, I asked the legislative sponsors of the ban about a possible cigar bar exemption. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) said even though the ban was modeled after the city of
Joette and Jeff Barta, owners of the Nice Ash cigar bar in
The Barta’s correctly submit their bar is different than other bars. Smoking on the premises is essential. Otherwise, customers will simply turn to the Internet or catalogues to buy their products. The Barta’s are planning to spend $300,000 in improvements at the Nice Ash that will stimulate the economy and enhance downtown economic development in
“We have a ban, it’s called choice,” said Jeff Barta, emphasizing no one is forced to patronize the Nice Ash.
Barta informed the committee that the city of
I commend the Barta’s for their compelling testimony.
When I also asked supporters of the ban if casinos would be included, they said that would be unconstitutional. I am mindful that casinos must obtain government –issued liquor licenses to allow distributors to deliver liquor. Casinos must also comply with health provisions found in Chapter 101 of the state statutes. To simply dismiss the inclusion of casinos in a statewide smoking ban I find short-sighted.
Smoking remains a legal activity. I am concerned about the far-reaching negative impact the ban would have on many