Council Will Suspend Modified Smoking Ban On Tuesday
Smoking will be banned again in public areas in buildings after Casper City Council suspends a 2013 ordinance at a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the city attorney said Friday
That's because the city clerk on Thursday verified the Keep Casper Smoke Free group gathered enough valid signatures to demand a referendum on the 2013 ordinance that relaxed some of the rules of the 2012 ordinance banning smoking in buildings.
In the next few weeks, council has several choices, Bill Luben said.
It can simply repeal the 2013, leaving the 2012 ordinance in place, Luben said.
Or the council could repeal part of the 2013 ordinance, he said. "If they repeal part of it, the part that is not repealed has to go to an election."
Finally, if council leaves the 2013 ordinance in place, Luben said the effort by Keep Casper Smoke Free goes before the voters in a special election to determine whether it stays on the books.
The 2013 ordinance allowed exceptions such as bars and taverns, rest homes that had areas segregated from the general public, clubs as long as the function was not open to the public, and shops with private offices and work areas.
After the relaxed rules went into effect, the promoters of the 2012 ordinance -- Keep Casper Smoke Free -- wanted to overturn them.
The organization, headed by former city councilwoman Kimberly Holloway and represented by attorney Mary Ann Budenske, began gathering signatures to demand a referendum for Casper voters to decide.
Keep Casper Smoke Free gathered nearly 3,000 signatures by July 2013 in the effort to overturn the then-new 2013 ordiance.
However, Casper City Clerk V.H. McDonald determined the group fell short of its goal for a minimum number of required signatures, because the addresses of some of the voters on the petition did not match the address entered when they registered to vote.
The group filed a declaratory judgment action in Natrona County District Court, Luben said.
District Court Judge Daniel Forgey ruled in August 2014 that McDonald acted arbitrarily.
The city appealed Forgey's decision to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which ruled this summer that the district court didn't have the jurisdiction to rule on the issue, but it did agree with Keep Casper Smoke Free that McDonald acted arbitrarily.
So Keep Casper Smoke Free began the effort to validate the signatures of those disputed by McDonald.
On Thursday, McDonald verified the signatures were valid and notified City Manager John Patterson.
The council intends to discuss what to do next at its Sept. 15 work session, Luben said.
"After that, we'll go to the next council meeting with either repealing it, or announcing we're not going to repeal it," he said. "Once that decision is made, a special election has to occur not less than 20 nor more than 60 days after that decision is made."