Should Business Owners Be Reimbursed For Cost Of Complying With The New Smoking Ban?

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Last week I wrote about a bill introduced by Rep. Blair Thoreson which would allow business owners to submit to the state’s tobacco prevention board receipts for the expense of putting up smoking warnings and other costs associated with complying with the newly-passed smoking ban.

Today the legislation was heard before the House Human Services Committee, and there was some very interesting testimony.

“The cost to comply…is astronomical,” said Tom Balzer of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association who noted that the signs have to be put up not just at every entrance to a business, but also in every vehicle used by employees of a given business.

Rudie Martinson of the North Dakota Hospitality Association also pointed out in his testimony before the committee that requiring the tobacco prevention board to cover the costs of these regulation might deter them from foisting needless requirement changes on business on a routine basis. “We set a policy on this, and we all spend money to come into compliance with it, and then two years later the policy changes,” he said. He also said that his organization wants the public to know there have been some “significant and repeated costs” associated with complying with these policies.

He’s right. Already under this law businesses can lose their licenses to operate if people are found to be smoking on or near their premises in contradiction to the law. It seems the least we can do is use some of the state’s share of the national tobacco class action lawsuits (which is how the tobacco prevention board is funded) to compensate the businesses for making these changes.

That it would also drain a big chunk of the board’s budget for pursuing further stupid policy changes through lobbying and initiated measures is just a cherry on top.

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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