Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Guess again, Wally.
Despite all the controversy and news coverage surrounding the latest example of government overstepping its bounds, there is a great deal of confusion and sheer ignorance of the impending smoking ban with about a month before it takes hold.
Wally Kriesant says (hopes?) the guys with badges will step up to ensure the law is obeyed. What Kriesant needs to realize is that under this ingenious statute, he bears responsibility, and a lot.
The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in a memo clarifies who is responsible for enforcement. Listen up, barkeeps:
“The person in charge of a facility is responsible for making reasonable efforts to prohibit persons from illegally smoking. For example, a bartender may not provide matches, ashtrays, or other smoking-related equipment, and must take all of the following steps:
· Post warning signs or provide other appropriate notification;
· Refuse to serve a person who is smoking in a tavern, restaurant, or private club;
· Ask a person who is smoking to refrain from doing so;
· Ask a person to leave if he or she refuses to stop smoking; and
· Immediately notify an appropriate law enforcement agency if a smoker refuses to leave after being asked to do so.
A person in charge may take other measures to prevent a person from being exposed to secondhand smoke.
Sheriffs and municipal police officers may issue citations if they observe someone smoking where it is not permitted, or they may respond to citizen complaints or when notified by the person in charge of a facility. “
What about penalties? Again, the Legislative Reference Bureau:
“A person who smokes where it is prohibited is subject to a forfeiture of not less than $100 nor more than $250 for each violation.”
Are you off the hook, Wally Kriesant?
“If the person in charge of a facility fails to take any required action to stop illegal smoking, he or she is subject to a forfeiture of $100 for each violation, but no more than one penalty per day. If the person in charge has not previously received a warning notice, then the law enforcement officer must issue a warning for the first violation in lieu of a citation.“
Are we clear?
The Wausau Daily Herald reports that in their neck of the woods, local law enforcement admits enforcing the law will be a low priority.
Then why have a law if it’s not going to be taken seriously by law enforcement?
The Wausau Daily Herald reports some towns may warn that if a local watering hole sees smoking complaints pile up, that it will “face expulsion at its next liquor license review.”
The Legislative Reference Bureau writes, “An arrest or conviction for a violation of the law may not be considered in any action to revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew an alcohol beverage license or permit.”
This is rural territory. What about large urban areas like downtown
I can certainly imagine eagle-eyed undercover police bureaucrats wandering up and down
Wise use of police resources? I don’t think so.
So in some parts of the state, a complaint might be a police department’s fifth or sixth priority. In other areas, there could be undercover stings.
This law is ridiculous. But this is exactly what happens when you allow government to garner more control.
NOTE: The Legislature amended the definition of substantial wall as written in the above-mentioned Legislative Reference Bureau memo to mean a wall with no opening or with an opening that either does not allow air in from the outside or that is less than 25 percent of the wall’s surface area. The smoking ban law will allow structures that have a roof and not more than two substantial walls