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Smoking decision to be appealed

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt Fiscal Court will ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to give a discretionary review of a recent decision relating to the powers allowed a health department.

Earlier this month, the state Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in overturning a Bullitt Circuit Court decision on whether the Bullitt County Board of Health had the power to impose a smoking ban.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the General Assembly had given powers to the Board of Health to impose such smoking bans in public places.

In March 2010, the Board of Health adopted regulations to impose such a ban in Bullitt County. Bullitt Fiscal Court, joined by the eight municipalities, filed suit.

Just days before the ban was to go into effect, Circuit Judge Rodney Burress ruled that the health board had exceeded its powers.

On Dec. 7, 2012, the appellate court reversed that decision.

On Tuesday, Bullitt Fiscal Court members went into executive session to discuss the litigation.

After closed door discussions, the court voted 3-0 to have county attorney Monica Robinson seek a discretionary review by the state Supreme Court.

That decision would please Harlen Compton, whose Bullitt County Choice coalition also fought the smoking ban.

Prior to executive session, Compton encouraged fiscal court members to appeal the decision.

“Anything can fall under the umbrella of public health,” Compton said the appeals court decision.

He called the decision nothing more than writing a blank check to the health boards throughout the state to regulate anything they feel affects public health.

At the time of the appellant decision, Dr. Swannie Jett, executive director of the Bullitt County Public Health Department, said he hoped that the court members would not appeal. However, he was expecting another court challenge.

The smoking ban would eliminate such activities in public areas, including some businesses.