Lawrence gets to be the test case. The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of Lawrence's 2-year-old ban on smoking in public places. A local bar owner who filed a lawsuit over the no-smoking ordinance claims the law is unconstitutionally vague because it doesn't spell out instructions for what business owners must do if people are discovered smoking in their establishments. He also argued that the Lawrence law illegally supersedes state laws requiring businesses to provide smoke-free areas.
City attorneys successfully presented arguments on the other side of the issue in Douglas County District Court, but the bar owner decided to press his case with an appeal. The Kansas Supreme Court took up the case rather than refer it to the Kansas Court of Appeals because of the impact the case would have on other Kansas cities that have passed or are considering similar smoking bans.
It will be good to have this issue settled so that those cities that wish to initiate smoking bans can learn what must be done, how it must be done and whether changes in city ordinances or state statutes are needed to allow the kind of smoking bans they support.
It's also nice for all of the other cities in Kansas that Lawrence apparently will foot the legal bill to defend no-smoking ordinances across the state.
Perhaps other cities will take up a collection for us; sometimes it doesn't pay to be a trend setter.