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News Summary

Smoking ban ruling opens new questions

Publication Date: 2005-04-12
  • Publication:Helena (MT) Independent Record
A District Court ruling that Helena's all-encompassing smoking ordinance is in fact constitutional throws open the question of whether the city is bound to enforce its law for five-plus months before a new state law is expected to take effect this fall.

Helena District Court Judge Thomas Honzel overturned a City Court decision from 2002 that the local ordinance is unlawful because it doesn't provide for a jury trial for those ticketed.

The Honzel decision comes days after the Legislature gave final passage to a bill that bans smoking in all buildings in Montana open to the public starting Oct. 1 but giving bars an additional four years to comply. That bill, a delicately crafted compromise between health groups and gaming and tavern interests and unanimously supported by the Helena City Commission, passed the Senate last week and is expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

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