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Suit says Madison council broke open-meetings law

MADISON (AP) — Three Madison residents are suing the city for allegedly violating the state's open meetings law when the city's no-smoking law was passed last month without what they say was adequate notice of changes to the ordinance.

Margaret Daly, Matthew Agnello and Patricia Glass asked a judge to dismiss the no-smoking law and order the council from now on to provide the public with, among other things, a "full and complete copy" of any proposed ordinances.

They're also asking a judge to require the city to keep better records of its meetings.

The ordinance was passed on Jan. 8 and sets restrictions on smoking throughout the city. It was proposed in June and the City Council held two work sessions on it and heard hours of public comments.

The Huntsville Times, which reported on the suit Friday, said a copy of the proposed ordinance was posted on the city's web site in November, but changes to that posting weren't aired until the meeting.

The city attorney read the changes aloud and the public was given copies of the changes about 20 minutes before the council voted, the paper said.

The suit contends there was no complete reading of the proposal and that the council didn't give proper notice of the changes under the Alabama Open Meetings Act.

The ordinance says Madison businesses must declare whether they are smoking or nonsmoking. If smoking, an enclosed area with proper ventilation is required for smokers. It also requires anyone under 19 to be accompanied by an adult.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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