Topeka A showdown over a proposed statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places, such as restaurants and bars, may occur today.
In the House, supporters of a ban are expected to make a motion to concur with a plan already approved by the Senate.
Both sides of the issue said Wednesday there is a majority in the House to OK the Senate-approved bill, which would send the measure to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who strongly favors a ban.
Opponents of a statewide ban continued to fight what was coming down the track.
“This is not something you should cram down people’s throats,” said state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, who is chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Landwehr has an alternative bill, but it has been blasted by health officials, who said it would have allowed indoor smoking for a nominal fee, and overturned stricter local ordinances, such as the one in Lawrence. Parkinson called that bill a “fraud.”
On Wednesday, Landwehr called two meetings of a House-Senate conference committee, saying she wanted to try to craft a compromise. Both times, no senators showed up.
Landwehr said the proposed statewide ban approved by the Senate was unfair because it exempted state-owned casinos. But she said even if the bill prohibited smoking in casinos, she wouldn’t support a statewide ban because she said local officials should make that decision.
Health officials have said that they aren’t happy with the casino exemption but that the bill represents a major step forward toward reducing health problems from secondhand smoke.