Girl Scouts may get their government badge — and an Aurora law banning smoking in cars with kids

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AURORA | A local Girl Scout troop wants to make it illegal in Aurora to smoke in a car when a juvenile is also in the vehicle.

And the girls, middle school students in Aurora part of Girl Scout troop 789, have a real shot at passing their proposal. It’s set for a city council vote later this month.

Councilman Charlie Richardson, who has been working with the troop on the ordinance and teaching the group about local government, told fellow council members Monday evening he would take the draft ordinance to a full council meeting.

“Over a year ago I got a reach out from the (troop) leader asking if I’d like to talk about the legislative process,” Richardson said during the council’s study session. “Of course I said yes.”

Since, the troop has worked with the city attorney’s office to draft the rule, which if passed would cost an offender a minimum $150.

The troop of five said they wanted the fine to be high enough so that people would be deterred from smoking in cars with kids. The ordinance would apply to all types of smoking, including vaping, and could cost an offender up to $2,650.

The ordinance is part of the troop’s aim for a Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

Troop leaders Kristen Batcho and Michele Malchow said at first they were surprised by the scope of what the troop of five wanted to do for a project that could earn them a national award.

“We thought, ‘wow’ that’s a big subject,” Malchow said.

And so Batcho invited Richardson to the group’s meeting to talk about the process.

“It started down the hill there,” Malchow said with a laugh.

And the girls are still rolling. They first approached city council in September with a presentation about the dangers of smoking around children in cars. The girls said they were at first a little nervous about taking on the project, but now their butterflies are all passion for seeing the ordinance through.

“This is a lot bigger than we were expecting,” said troop member Amelia Malchow.

Now, the girls say they notice people smoking in cars with kids more often.  Their original presentation included data showing the air quality in a car becomes 10 times worse than what the Environmental Projection Agency considers healthy when half of a cigarette has been smoked.

“It’s really gross,” said Micaela Morris, also in the troop. “I feel bad for those kids.”

A handful of states have passed laws prohibiting smoking in cars with juveniles. Honolulu is the only city that has passed something close to the Girl Scout’s proposal.

Beyond getting the ordinance passed, the girls said they want have an impact on children’s lives.

And while doing so, they said it’s been fun working with Richardson and the city.

“It was cool,” said Julianna Martin. “He (Richardson) is a groovy dude.”