ND House Waters Down “Ridiculous” State Smoking Ban

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In the last election North Dakotans voted for a statewide smoking ban that, going beyond merely banning smoking, contained a number of provisions for workplaces such as posting signs and removing factory-installed ash trays even in personal vehicles used for work. But today the ND House voted for two laws watering down that ban.

North Dakotans thought they were “voting on a smoking bill” and were “not at all aware” of some of the other provisions in the measure, said Rep. Vernon Laning (R-Bismarck) who carried HB1292 to the floor of the House. “This gets to the point of being ridiculous,” he said of the ballot measures requirements.

That bill removes several of the signage and other requirements contained in the measured passed by voters, and it passed the House on a 72-22 vote.

The House also considered, and passed, Rep. Blair Thoreson’s bill (HB1253) which originally would have allowed businesses to invoice the state’s tobacco prevention board for the cost of putting up signs. That bill was amended to require that the tobacco prevention board provide the signage upon request.

Rep. Eliot Glasshiem (D-Grand Forks) argued that Thoreson’s bill “seems like a deliberate attempt to cost [the tobacco prevention board] time and money.”

To which I respond, well duh.

The tobacco prevention board is state-sanctioned political activism funded by North Dakota’s share to the tobacco class action lawsuits. Republicans are very much interested in draining that particular swamp of any resources to continue their activism, and the creation of that board through the initiated measure process is a strong argument for some of the laws which would reform the ballot measure process.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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