I believe it was Patrick Henry who said no man's life, liberty and property are safe when the legislature is in session. How true! Today the Washington Post reports that Speaker Howell and Governor Kaine have reached a deal to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. So much for the property rights of owners of restaurants and bars, and the liberty of their patrons.
According to the Post:
Under the agreement, which the two men finalized last night, smoking will be permitted only in private clubs but public establishments can also construct enclosed, ventilated smoking rooms for patrons.
We may not like smoking, but there is a more fundamental issue at stake. Property rights are the basis of human freedom. In our homes we should be able to decide if smoking will be allowed or not. Restaurant owners should have the same right.
In addition to being an attack on individual freedom I worry that this deal is bad for the northern Virginia economy. Restaurants will now be forced to decide if they want to construct costly enclosed, ventilated smoking rooms for patrons. It is in effect an unfunded mandate on small business. In addition, this deal could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business. Afterall, now where will DC and Maryland smokers go? They used to be able to come to our bars and restaurants and partake in their admittedly bad habit. Now they will have less incentive to come here, to drink and eat.
Sadly my state is becoming more and more like Maryland. Lots of paternalistic laws, and government. I am not a smoker, but I always like knowing if I want to go into a bar and smoke I can.
Maybe we can still kill the deal. I hope.
I am sure Patrick Henry is rolling over in his grave right now.