Amendments to Smoke Free.

Amendments exempting Hookah Bars, Tobacconists and Cigar Bars from the Smoke Free DC legislation have been rejected by a majority of the council, which would doom places like Chi-Cha Lounge and other such places to closure or re-tasking in the face of the ban. Both attempts failed 8-4.

Councilwoman Schwartz is now attempting to amend the bill to permit restaurants and spaces under 750 square feet to be waived until such time as the business is sold or changes configuration.

[Update] Schwartz’s amendment failed.

There’s now a motion to reconsider the hardship clause before the council, Councilman Graham sponsoring.

He has now yielded to Councilman Fenty. Councilman Fenty has an amendment before the council: Amend the Smoke-Free law to provide guidance for the Mayor’s Office regarding the exemption to the smoking ban for financial hardship. It would add a 15% threshold year to year, for businesses.

Councilman Catania suggests this may be unwise due to the fact that the standards for economic hardship should be evaluated on an individual basis. His argument was successful, and the amendment was rejected , 9-3 against.

Councilman Fenty brought another amendment, to implement the bill much more quickly than 1 January 2007, but rather a date on 1 July 2006.

Councilman Catania has countered: restaurants will be forced into compliance upon completion of the legislation, while bars have a year to seek outdoor space for smokers to congregate. The department of health will have difficulties hiring appropriate staff and the limitations of the current department’s training department, according to Councilman Catania.

Councilwoman Schwartz has noted that the bill has said the department may do inspections. The language was specific to avoid financial costs. Thus, inspections would have fiscal cost at any point if they’re required. Councilwoman Schwartz has also pointed out that the bill’s current date of 1 Jan 2007 is conveniently after the council election, when the politicians will not have to pay the consequences immediately. She is for the move-up of the date to 1 July 2006 as it will force the issue as part of elections.

Councilman Catania objects that this will allow for another full holiday and New Year’s season.

Councilman Brown requests a friendly amendment to allow the date to be changed to 15 September. His request is denied. His attempt to amend the amendment failed.

The amendment to change the date has failed.

This is getting a bit confusing for me, as two amendments concerning hookah bars and tobacco resellers were just passed that made absolutely no sense to me.

3 Comments so far

  1. Stacey (unregistered) on January 4th, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

    Schwartz is my hero – has been for years. She truly stands up for herself in a vat of government-hungry activists, not representatives. Well, she and occassionally a few others on the Council.

    She’s a true believer in personal and corporate freedom, and I’ll give her nothing less than campaign donations and my undying support.

    And if I smoked, I’d bum her a cigarette in a second. But I don’t. And I’m against the ban. Because the Constitution is more important than a beer I want to go out for.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on January 4th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    I admire the strength of her conviction, but I will absolutely welcome a smoke-free bar environment.

  3. BAV (unregistered) on February 14th, 2006 @ 12:26 am

    If you want to smoke in DC, just head for the Hill:

    “WHEN the citywide smoking ban takes effect here next month, at least one workplace in town will be spared: Congress, the beneficiary of a kind of diplomatic immunity for federal lawmakers.” —New York Times, via the Adams Morgan Yahoo Group

    Wouldn’t want John Boehner to go without his smokes, now would we?

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