Expanded smoking ban to take effect

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved a law expanding the state's indoor smoking ban to bars, video lottery establishments and Deadwood casinos.

With more than a half of the state's precincts reporting, the measure had 65 percent support.

The law will go into effect Nov. 10, the day after the election is expected to be certified.

Lawmakers in 2009 voted to extend the state's current ban on smoking in most workplaces and public areas, but a coalition of bars and gambling businesses gathered enough signatures to force a statewide vote.

Jennifer Stalley, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society, called the passage of Referred Law 12 a victory for workers who will now be protected from secondhand smoke exposure, which causes heart disease and lung cancer.

"For employees, it's going to make sure that everyone in South Dakota has a smoke-free place to earn their living in," Stalley said.

Don Rose, owner of Shenanigans Pub in Sioux Falls, argued that Referred Law 12 takes away the personal rights of business owners who choose to cater to customers who smoke. But he said he was glad that voters had their chance to be heard on the issue.

"It doesn't make South Dakota smoke free," said Rose, spokesman for Citizens for Individual Freedom. "It makes a few bars smoke free."

The 2009 Legislature passed the expanded smoking ban to take effect on July 1, 2009. Owners of bars and casinos submitted petition signatures to refer it to a vote, but the matter went to court after Secretary of State Chris Nelson ruled that enough signatures were invalid to keep it off the ballot.

After a lengthy legal battle, a judge last November cleared the way for it to be put on the ballot.

Both sides have also cited financial effects of the ban.

Rose said South Dakota is already having trouble balancing its budget, and he expects a drop in state revenue, especially from video lottery, when people are forced to go outside the bar to smoke or don't show up at all.

Stalley said smoking bans are revenue neutral or positive for businesses, and the law will reduce health care costs stemming from cancer, heart attacks and respiratory disease.

SD voters say no to
medical marijuana

South Dakota voters on Tuesday once again rejected an effort to allow patients suffering from a debilitating medical condition legal access to marijuana.

With more than 65 percent of precincts reporting, 59 percent of voters opposed the measure, and 41 percent supported it.

A similar effort went up in smoke just four years ago, receiving 48 percent of the vote.

Vermillion Police Chief Art Mabry, president of the South Dakota Association of Police Chiefs, said the law enforcement community opposed Initiated Measure 13 because of worries that it would lead to increased use of pot by those with no medical need.

"I think the biggest concern was how it was going to be distributed and the issue of the caregiver," Mabry said. "As I said before, had this passed, a drug dealer today would be a caregiver tomorrow."

Supporters argued that it was an issue of compassion, as those dealing with the pain and muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis or the nausea from cancer chemotherapy treatments should have access to something that could help them.

"The patients are once again facing a very emotional loss and a repeat (of 2006)," said Sioux Falls resident Emmett Reistroffer, an organizer of the petition drive that put the issue on the ballot.

The state would have been the 15th to legalize medical marijuana.

South Dakota's proposal was more restrictive than laws in other states that have legalized marijuana for medical uses. It would have banned storefront dispensaries, instead requiring patients or their designated caregivers to cultivate and handle the marijuana. A caregiver would have been limited to growing for no more than five patients.

The proposal would have legalized marijuana to treat debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's, and conditions such as chronic pain, severe nausea or muscle spasms or seizures.

The state Health Department would have issued registry cards, good for a year, to patients who got doctors to certify that they had medical needs that could be treated with marijuana. Qualified patients and their designated caregivers could not have been arrested or prosecuted for having up to an ounce of pot.

The card holder or caregiver would have been able to have up to six marijuana plants, which would have had to be kept in a locked place.

The law stated that no more than one patient or caregiver would have been able to grow marijuana on the same property, unless the property was the primary residence for each of the cardholders.

State voters split

South Dakota voters split the ticket when it came to amending the state constitution Tuesday, voting yes on a measure to guarantee secret ballots and turning down a change in the way the $211 million trust fund from the state cement plant sale is divided.

Amendment K guarantees South Dakotans the right to vote in secret. This right would apply to elections of public officers, adoption of initiated or referred measures and elections to designate or authorize employee representation, such as elections involving unions. Amendment K passed with nearly 80 percent of the vote.

Amendment L would have changed the way funds are disbursed from a $211 million trust fund original funded by the sale of the state-owned cement plant nearly a decade ago. Voting on Amendment L ran nearly 60 percent against.

With the failure of the amendment effort, a $12 million transfer from the trust fund to the general fund will continue to be paid out annually as well as 5 percent of the fund if the market value allows it. Any interest earned each year above that $12 million goes toward education.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>