A group that is planning to sue to try and block the implementation of the statewide smoking ban is getting closer to action. Jon Van Roekel, president of the Clinton Organized Bar and Restaurant Association (COBRA), says they’re currently interviewing attorneys.
Van Roekel says they’ve been asking the lawyers the feasibility of challenging the law, and he says the answers have been mixed, with some saying it’s a legitimate case, while others say it would have to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Van Roekel says that’s about what they expected, and he says they are nearing the money they need to fund the challenge as "the donations come rolling in."
Van Roekel says his organization has joined with similar groups across the state to make it a coordinated effort. He says their second front is allying themselves with other states who have the same law and looking at taking on the issue at the national level. The smoking ban will take effect on July 1st and ban smoking in most businesses, but exempts parts of the state licensed casinos.
Van Roekel says they’d like to block the ban from taking effect. "Our intentions are, is to try and get an injunction," Van Roekel says, "obviously that’s not an easy thing to do…Once we get the injunction, we would like it to be able to really stop it until we can get into the hands of the courts and let them decide if its lawful or not. Which I think everybody knows it’s not, it’s a personal privacy issue."
Van Roekel owns interest in two bars and owns a company that supplies pizzas to such businesses. He also announced Tuesday that he is running for the Republican nomination to run for an Iowa House Seat in his district. Van Roekel says the smoking ban is one issue that made him decided to run. He says it’s separate but related to his run.
"Our legislators have made a wealth of bad decisions and it’s time that somebody got in there that would represent small businesses, that would represent you know, the little guy, represent the little mom and pop operations and the families that you know, count on them," Van Roekel says.
Van Roekel says other bussiness people are also planning to run for the legislature in hopes of giving small business owners more of a voice.