Anti-Smoking Group Files Suit Against Casper, City Clerk
An anti-smoking group is moving forward with a suit against the city of Casper and its clerk.
Keep Casper Smoke Free wants to force city clerk V.H. McDonald to reevaluate nearly 100 smoking ban referendum signatures that the group claims were rejected unlawfully last month.
The group’s co-chair, Kimberly Holloway, filed the suit in Natrona County’s seventh judicial court.
“We would just like to have it in a court and have them look over the statute and whether or not we fulfilled the obligations set forth in the statute and whether or not the city clerk overstepped his authority by making up rules or applying rules that we couldn’t find sanctioned by law anywhere,” Holloway said.
If the court sides with the city, Holloway said the group would then try to convince lawmakers in Cheyenne to clarify state law.
“We would probably lobby the legislature to address the shortcomings of the statute,” Holloway said. “I think they need to add some detailed language, and I think they need to clean up the language in the statute that applies to referendum and initiative at the local level.”
The statute Holloway is referring to is 22-23-1005, which states that any ordinance adopted by municipal government “shall be subject to a referendum vote if a petition signed by ten percent of the qualified electors registered in the city or town is filed with the municipal clerk not later than twenty days after the ordinance is first published after adoption as provided by law.”
Keep Casper Smoke Free wants a special election on changes to Casper’s public indoor smoking ordinance. Casper City Council recently amended the ban to allow smoking within city-based drinking establishments, private clubs and healthcare facilities.
The group claims it gathered nearly 3,000 signatures. Nearly 700 of those signatures were rejected by the clerk’s office, causing the group to fall 61 signatures short of its target.
City clerk V.H. McDonald said his office will continue to rely on its initial signature review. McDonald also said the initial review was conducted objectively.
Keep Casper Smoke Free is accepting legal defense fund donations through a crowdfunding website.