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Archive for Friday, April 30, 2010

House won’t reopen smoking ban debate

April 30, 2010

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— The Kansas House refused Thursday to reconsider a new state law that bans smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places beginning in July.

Legislators approved the ban last month. Some House members wanted to reconsider parts of it, including an exemption for the gambling areas of state-owned casinos.

The House had planned a debate Thursday on delaying the smoking ban until next January. But the chamber decided on a voice vote to send the matter back to a committee, where it’s likely to die.

“I don’t think there’s an interest in tinkering with the smoking ban,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. “That issue has been dealt with.”

But Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican who’s critical of the new law, said backers of the ban and supporters of state-owned gambling feared that debating the bill would lead to a discussion of banning smoking in the new casinos.

“So they killed it,” she said.

Voting rights

House members gave first-round approval Thursday to a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to preserve the voting rights of the mentally ill.

The constitution says legislators have the authority to deny voting rights to convicted felons, people in jail or prison, and those with mental illness.

The proposal would remove mental illness from that list.

The House advanced the measure on a voice vote Thursday to final action set for today. Approval by two-thirds of the chamber would put it on the November ballot.

Senators have already approved the measure.

A simple majority of voters would need to approve the amendment.

Kansas does not currently bar voting by people with mental illness, but proponents say removing the language from the Kansas Constitution would be a meaningful step.

Under the dome

Thursday was the 77th day of the Legislature’s annual session, out of 90 scheduled. Legislative leaders said they’re expecting the House and Senate to break again for the weekend.

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