St. Charles court decides on fate of smoking ban, sheriff appointment measures

St. Charles court decides on fate of smoking ban, sheriff appointment measures

St. Charles court decides on fate of smoking ban, sheriff appointment measures

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by Emily Rau / News 4 and KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 5:41 PM

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) -- A St. Charles County Circuit Court was in session Tuesday deciding the fate of two divisive ballot measures currently slated to appear on the November ballot.

Also dependent on the decision was the potential cost to reprint the county’s election ballots, which could be more than $100,000 of taxpayer money.

Division 1 Circuit Judge Ted House was hearing arguments regarding an ongoing smoking issue in the county.

The lawsuit in question is directed at County Elections Director Rich Chrismer, who pulled a two-question smoking ban proposition from the ballot earlier this month. Chrismer told News 4 the proposal, passed by the County Council, was rushed and that the wording would be confusing for voters

The lawsuit would force Chrismer to include the smoking ban on the November ballot. It was filed by county resident Don Young, an advocate for anti-smoking laws throughout the area.

The two-part smoking ban package would first ask if voters are in favor of a county-wide ban on smoking. The second proposition, if passed, would exempt any establishment that only allows patrons and employees who are over 21.

The county council met in a special weekend-session and decided to push back against Chrismer, urging him to keep the proposal on the ballot. However, the council opted not to file a lawsuit which would result in a legal battle among two county entities. That would require outside legal services paid for by taxpayer dollars.

A second lawsuit being considered Tuesday challenges a measure that would change the county sheriff’s department to a county police department. That would mean the police chief would be appointed, a change from the current system where the sheriff is elected.

Sheriff Tom Neer asked the county council to put the proposal on the ballot in August.

Sheriff Neer told News 4 the change would be primarily be a matter of paperwork, and would not come with a big price tag. He says it would ensure a qualified candidate is in charge of law enforcement in St. Charles County.

O’Fallon City Council candidate A.C. Dienoff filed the lawsuit to stop the measure from going to a vote in November.

Opponents of the proposal, including a group of St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, say the measure would take voting power away from citizens.

Director of Finance for St Charles County, Bob Schnur, says reprinting the ballots could cost the county more than $100,000. The ballots have not been completely printed, and printing was on hold as of Tuesday morning, according to Schnur.

 

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