Drown launches bill to tighten recent smoking ban

Howard County Councilman Darrel Drown, a 2nd District Republican, put legislation in the council hopper last week that would remove exemptions from the county's recently enacted smoking ban.

The ban, which takes effect July 1, 1996, outlaws smoking in almost all public places except retail tobacco stores, overnight truck stops, and separately ventilated, enclosed bar portions of restaurants.


Mr. Drown's bill would remove those exceptions.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker twice vetoed the smoking ban, in part because it contained exemptions.


His preference was for the county to hold off on a ban until one is imposed statewide.

"I'm doing this as a courtesy to Chuck, but the exemptions probably should have been removed anyway," Mr. Drown said. "We've batted this back and forth and I think it is a good idea to hear [the new bill] in that light."

Mr. Drown's bill would still allow smoking in specially designated living and sleeping quarters in county hotels and motels.

It would also allow actors to smoke in plays.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, a 3rd District Democrat and chief architect of the bill, said he is mystified by what Mr. Ecker and Mr. Drown are proposing.

"First, [Mr. Ecker] was against it. Now, it's not tight enough," Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray said he was also surprised that Mr. Drown is sponsoring the bill.

The council accepted Mr. Drown's amendments to broaden the ban when passing the anti-smoking law Sept. 7 and afterward, Mr. Drown voted to override Mr. Ecker's veto.


The amendments to the county's smoking ban were among 20 measures put on the council's legislative agenda for action in December.

Included is a resolution sponsored by Mr. Gray and Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, a 1st District Democrat, urging the state to enact clean air standards that are less stringent than those proposed now for businesses and commuters.

Also on the agenda is a bill sponsored by Councilman Paul R. Farragut, a 4th District Democrat, that would require the Planning and Zoning Department to notify property owners of proposed zoning changes within 15 days of filing a petition for comprehensive rezoning.

The notification would include proposals from individual property owners whose ideas were rejected or accepted by the department.

The bill would require people seeking zoning changes apart from comprehensive rezoning to send certified letters to landowners of adjoining property advising them of the requested change in zoning.

The council will also consider two bills giving raises to council members and the county executive elected in 1994.


The bills are part of a recommendation from the Compensation Review Commission.

The commission recommended that incoming council members receive a $700-a-year raise during each of the next four years, and that the executive receive a $2,125-a-year raise for each of those years.