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Iowa News Analysis - Casino Smoking Bans; Senator Grassley Runs to Keep Running

posted on May 9, 2008 at 2:17 PM


Yeager: We turn to Kay Henderson for a look behind the current headlines from her point of view at Radio Iowa. Let's start in the western part of the state, talk about Sioux City where the city council is going where the Iowa legislature didn't seem to go.

Henderson: Exactly. On Monday the city council in Sioux City discussed drafting an ordinance which would forbid smoking on the casino floor. When Iowa's new smoking ban goes into effect for most public places on July 1st it will not apply to the gaming floors at any of the state licensed casinos. As many folks in western Iowa know there is a casino sitting on the Missouri riverfront there in Sioux City. There was discussion at the city council level about how unfair it was to restaurants and bars in Sioux City that their smoking patrons can go right out there to the boat and play the slot machines and smoke.

Yeager: And this is something that they've gotten a little bit of push back. What has been the push back?

Henderson: Well, number one, the push back, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs pointed out in an interview with Iowa Public Radio that the legislature did not repeal current law. Current law forbids cities and counties from enacting ordinances which are stricter than state law. As you may recall there was a court ruling whereby ordinances in Ames and Iowa City which tried to restrict smoking at restaurants and bars in those two college towns was turned down by the court as a violation of law and so Gronstal's point was this too would be stricter than state law and therefore would likely be thrown out by the courts. And then on the other side of this you have business owners who have been talking up the idea of suing the state on the smoking ban issue. So, there seems to be a lot of smokiness to this.

Yeager: Good way to put it. Now, the council, the way I read a couple of the articles about this is, they're looking out for their businesses in their town. They're not looking out for the interest or what they call the interests of the casinos.

Henderson: Right. And there's one city council member who is a business owner who said he won't even vote on the issue because it directly impacts him. And the mayor, who was the one who was pushing this issue, said he's not guaranteeing that he would even vote for this ordinance were it to be introduced at their next council meeting. Their city attorney in the accounts that I've heard of this meeting seem to be really excited about the prospect, called the ordinance ground breaking, that was his words.

Yeager: We'll see if it catches on the rest of the state and it appears, though, Kay we're always talking about campaign season, political people running, candidates running. But you've got a different story about running including Senator Charles Grassley.

Henderson: Exactly, I have a friend who lives in Washington, D.C. who called me last week and he said, I ran in a three mile race called The Capitol Challenge and I was drinking water at the finish line and saw Senator Charles Grassley cross. 29 minutes and 29 seconds he ran three miles so he's a sub-ten minute mile runner at the age of 74. So, this week I had an opportunity to talk to him about this. The man began running at the age of 65. He started running two miles a day, three to four times a week. Now, he runs, he says, four to five times a week and when he turned 70 he decided to kick it up to three miles a week.

Yeager: So, not waning at all in his exercise regimen.

Henderson: Exactly. And I asked him, what happened at the age of 65? There were a couple of things. Obviously turning 65 gets you thinking. And also at the time he was on the Senate Select Committee, he was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Aging and had been invited to visit every Iowa nursing home. And he walked into these facilities where the folks on staff were trying to get the people in the wheelchairs to be more active. And Grassley, in his words said, egads, I don't want to be in that position when I'm old. So, he thought he needed to be more physically active. So, when the new year changed he had a resolution, he had someone on his staff who was helping him. And he also told me in this interview that next year at this time if he's still getting up in the morning at 5:15 and going for a three mile run he is going to run for re-election because that means he'll be healthy for six more years.

Yeager: That's true. Very good. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, thanks for stopping by, appreciate it as always.

Tags: exercise fitness Iowa news smoking