Opponents of smoking bans in Missouri argue that the government should not regulate the policies of private businesses. And now, Missouri State Rep. Kathie Conway has her own government proposal that she says would send that message very clearly: Punish cities that enact overreaching no-smoking ordinances. How?
Take away the tax revenue the city gets from establishments hurt by the smoking bans.
"The goal is to protect private property rights," Conway, a Republican from St. Charles, tells Daily RFT. "I just really wanted to get the conversation going."
On the latter, she's definitely had some success.
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Conway's House Bill 1021, which had a hearing last week, is pretty short and simple in its current draft form. It says:
If any political subdivision prohibits the use of tobacco in a private business...all tax revenue generated by the business through property taxes and county sales taxes shall be remitted to the local school district in lieu of the political subdivision.
In other words, if signed into law, it means local municipalities and counties would lose tax revenue if they successfully passed smoking bans.
The bill has nothing to do with her opinion on smoking, she says.
"I just want to be absolutely clear," she tells us, "I disagree with smoking. I think smoking is a bad thing to do. I'm not promoting tobacco."
What she is promoting is the rights of private businesses to allow this kind of activity on their premises if they choose, she says.
Since it got attention last week, opponents -- including cities interested in smoking bans and anti-smoking advocacy groups -- have argued that it's a misguided attempt to punish cities working to improve public health.
Redirecting that tax revenue, critics say, would hurt municipal services and thus negatively impact all residents of a city with a ban.
Continue for details on Rep. Conway's latest revisions to the bill and the full proposal.
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