August 27, 2007
Anti-smoking ban lawsuit dismissed

Score another win for the city in court.

After a daylong hearing in which the bar owners sought a preliminary injunction against the ordinance, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller found that the city can regulate alcohol-selling businesses to protect the public health and welfare.

Miller said the plaintiffs, Crazy Frogs Saloon and the Houston Association of Alcoholic Beverage Permit Holders, did not meet the high burden required for an injunction.

In doing so, he rejected claims that the city's ordinance improperly or unfairly regulated the businesses, or that it was unconstitutionally vague.

"The city of Houston's smoking ordinance, in my view, does not conflict with the state law that regulates the sale of alcohol," Miller said. "The mere fact that Texas has enacted laws that regulate the sale of alcohol does not preclude the city from passing ordinances regarding establishments that serve alcohol. Otherwise the city could not impose regulations, such as a health code or noise ordinances."

Matt Stiles liveblogged the proceedings. I know there was a kerfuffle after the story about Mayor White putting the arm on some prominent law firms to do pro bono work for the city. All I can say at this point is that between this, the Hotze lawsuit, and the tail end of the SOB saga (I'm presuming that recent legislation will moot the Kubosh lawsuit), the Mayor has certainly gotten good results from this. The bars are apparently going to appeal, but it doesn't look good for them right now.

Now that this has been settled, I hope that all the confusion over applying for exemptions can be cleared up. At least there's now an application available.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 27, 2007 to Local politics