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Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Smoking legislation moves to full Senate

Bill would apply to whole state but includes county opt-out provision

February 1, 2007

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— A watered-down ban on smoking in indoor public places hobbled out of a state Senate committee Wednesday.

The measure was sent by the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate with no recommendation as to whether it should pass or fail.

The bill would impose a statewide smoking ban but allow county commissioners to opt out of the prohibition. If they do, voters could petition to have the right to decide the matter at the polls.

Cities, such as Lawrence, which already have indoor smoking bans, would not be affected if the county decided to opt out of the proposal, lawmakers said.

Originally, Senate Bill 37 simply banned smoking in workplaces, bars, restaurants and other indoor areas.

But Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said his provision to allow counties to opt out and then to allow voters to decide the issue would give the public more time to consider the issue.

Public health groups, however, supported a more comprehensive prohibition.

But Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, said Schmidt's approach was more politically palpable.

"Too many people in this building don't understand that a half loaf is better than none," Journey said.

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