Some of Madison's alders want the public to decide on the city's smoking ban this spring. On April 4th residents would be able to vote on an advisory referendum.
Alders acknowledge that some businesses need immediate help because sales are down, and they claim it is due to the smoking ban.
That's why alders want to give those bars and restaurants an exemption to the law, but only if their profits show more than a 10 percent decrease over a three month period.
"I get 40 e–mails a day plus phone calls on this issue,” says District 13 Alder Isadore Knox, Jr. “I think what we are trying to do is do the reasonable thing in terms of looking at the impact it is having on businesses, and certainly trying to respect the wishes of people that do not smoke."
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz thinks otherwise.
"He is not supporting the referendum,” says Cieslewicz spokesman George Twigg. “Because he feels that leaders are elected to lead, and this is a decision that the mayor and the city council should make, and if voters disagree they can replace them at the polls."
While those are the Mayor's thoughts on the referendum, he says he would consider a hardship exemption, but it would have to meet certain criteria.
The alders plan to present their proposal at the city council's September 6th meeting.
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