COLUMBIA — The verdict on a petition to repeal Columbia’s smoking ban might be in as early as this weekend.
City Clerk Sheela Amin estimates the petition has between 2,700 and 2,800 signatures. The number of signatures required by city charter is 20 percent of voters from the past municipal election. In this case, that number is 2,580.
Amin must certify the petition’s signatures before it can be introduced at a City Council meeting. Signatures are considered valid if they belong to a registered voter.
It is then up to the council to either repeal the ban or send the issue to a general election. If certified, the issue could appear on the April 8 ballot.
Local business owners Joe Thiel of Otto’s Corner Bar and Grill and Betty Hamilton of Tiger Club filed the petition last week. Thiel thinks the ban is responsible for the closure of several Columbia businesses and a decrease in his own business.
The council approved the ordinance instating the ban by a 4-3 vote on Oct. 10, 2006. The vote took place after five hours of public comment and debate by the council, and the ban took effect on Jan. 9, 2007.