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Wednesday, 07 July 2010
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Show Me The Smokey Money!

On the day after Independence Day, people in the state of Wisconsin lost one more freedom... the right to decide whether or not people are allowed to smoke in an establishment that they own. But now the bigger problem arises... where will all the money go from the tickets the police are going to write?

The Milwaukee Common Council delayed action Wednesday on a measure to enforce the new state smoking ban, after a lengthy debate over who would write tickets and how the city would define the enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited.

Without city action, only Milwaukee police are empowered to enforce the ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other buildings, and any tickets they write would be referred to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office for prosecution in Circuit Court, Deputy City Attorney Linda Burke told the council. The state law took effect Monday.

Wednesday's debate focused on a measure to write the state smoking ban into city ordinances, which would allow violations to be prosecuted by the city attorney's office in Municipal Court, where the fines levied would flow into the city treasury.

But the ordinance also would define enclosed areas differently than the state law. Tavern owners believe the state law would allow smoking in a bar that has large open windows on two sides, Assistant City Attorney Robin Pederson said. The city ordinance would allow smoking only in areas that have no more than two walls and a roof, Burke said.

Now if I recall correctly, one of the major arguments made by the proponents of the state ban was that there was too much variance between all the different municipal laws that had been enacted. Not only did some communities not have a ban (the horror!), but the bans were written differently in each community. A state law, they claimed, would solve that problem, and bring a uniform ban to the state.

The problem is... apparently... the money from the tickets will go to the county instead of the city. So now, the City of Milwaukee wants to write their own new, stricter law, anyway, so that they can write their own municipal tickets which will go into city coffers instead of state ones. Also of concern to me is the following from an article when the state ban was signed:

Under the law, the local bans remain in effect until the state one starts, but local governments would not be allowed to pass stricter regulations.

But that's exactly what the Milwaukee Common Council wants to do... which at least according to Fox 6, would be illegal under the current ban. So if Milwaukee still has to pass it's own ordinance, despite the existence of the "uniform ban", then what was the point in the statewide ban to begin with?

This entire debate of course shows the real reason why cigarette taxes and smoking bans are popular. They allow the government to rake in more money. It's not about keeping people healthy, because the government becomes addicted to the revenue that cigarettes bring in. California has created programs specifically with the funds brought in by its cigarette taxes. But now that the funds are drying up, because people are quitting due to the high cost, "the children are suffering".

# Posted at 14:23 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 1 Comment  |  No Trackbacks

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Tuesday, 03 August 2010 10:14:17 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
Just a little update, but the Common Council did pass a ban that is in fact stricter than the state ban.
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