Angry bar and restaurant owners will get their day in court

The Des Moines Register reported on Thursday that

On the same day a new statewide smoking ban went into effect [July 1], several bar and restaurant owners filed a petition in Polk County District Court seeking to overturn the ban.

The Iowa Bar Owners Coalition, based in Clinton County; the Clinton Organized Bar and Restaurant Association; Froehlich Properties; and longtime smoker Ron Oveson filed the petition in Des Moines on Tuesday.

The group's attorney, George Eichhorn, said he's seeking a temporary injunction on the enforcement of the ban until the case can go to trial.

That's former state Senator George Eichhorn, who last month just barely lost the Republican primary to run against U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Some restaurant and bar owners wanted to challenge the exemptions granted to casinos and other venues. Former Governor Tom Vilsack had expressed a willingness to take the case, as long as the lawsuit was aimed at overturning the exemptions and not at overturning the ban itself. Apparently no court anywhere in the U.S. has struck down a smoking ban.

However, some people say Iowa's new law is more extreme than other restrictions on public smoking, to the point of being "monstrous" and "vicious" and "cruel".

In his comments to the Register, Eichhorn suggested that was the angle he would pursue:

Eichhorn said the state adopted "radical" regulations that affect a lot of private businesses but did not take the necessary precautions to protect them. However, he said he thought the state made sure that it would still benefit monetarily.

"I think that Iowa has done some rather unusual things," he said. "We will get some good results out of this lawsuit."

I suspect that the people footing the bill for this lawsuit will be sorry they didn't listen to this guy:

Randy Stanford, a Des Moines small business owner who organized Iowans for Equal Rights, said no smoking ban has ever been overturned.

"They can waste their money any way they want, but there's only one legal issue," he said. "I wish there was a way to challenge the entire bill and be successful, but there isn't."

The only option is to "get rid of the unfair exemptions that are in the bill," he said.

I noticed that Iowans for Equal Rights was not among the groups that filed the petition in Polk County on Tuesday. Anyone know whether that group may still be planning to challenge the exemptions to the smoking ban?

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