It started with a request for an exemption for a single performance, escalated to a repeal of the smoking ban, and appears to be coming to end with a mayor’s veto.
On Jan. 22, the Elkhart, Ind. City Council heard a request for an exemption to the city’s clean air act that would have allowed comedian Ron White to smoke a cigar on stage during an upcoming performance at the Lerner Theater. Instead of simply voting on the exemption, the council decided to amend it into a repealing of the city’s smoking ban under the auspice of returning rights to private property owners who want to allow smoking in their establishments, such as bars and restaurants, according to a report by WNDU.com.
Then on Tuesday, Mayor Tim Neese issued a statement saying that he intended to veto the repeal. The mayor said that “after further review of Indiana Code 7.1-5-12, it has been determined that neither the amendment as proposed nor the repeal approved by the Council would supersede state law prohibiting smoking in public places.” He also added that he didn’t believe that rejecting the exemption request for White’s show would impact his performance.
“The legislative process is designed to encourage a thorough and comprehensive review of policy and to allow ample opportunity for public input,” Neese wrote. “This repeal did not appear on the agenda and the public had no opportunity to speak on the matter prior to a vote.”
Elkhart is located in northern Indiana, 15 miles east of South Bend, and 110 miles east of Chicago, Ill. It is home to just over 52,000 residents.
Update (Feb. 7, 2018) — The city council will not attempt an override of the mayor’s veto, according to a report from WNDU.com. The topic of a repeal may still come up at future council meetings.
This story was originally published on Jan. 30, 2018.