House approves statewide smoking ban; measure goes to governor
Topeka ? What Lawrence adopted in 2004 soon will be the law of the land throughout Kansas: a ban on smoking in most indoor public places such as restaurants, bars and workplaces.
The Kansas House on Thursday approved 68-54 a statewide ban, and Gov. Mark Parkinson indicated he would sign it into law when it hits his desk.
“This is a victory for workers, families, businesses and future generations,” said Parkinson, who had called for a strong smoke-free bill when the 2010 session started in January.
Supporters of the ban sitting in the House gallery cheered when the gavel came down on the vote to concur with a Senate plan that had been approved last year.
Rep. Charles Roth, R-Salina, called the measure “a legacy vote” and probably the most important bill in the past 20 years to improve the health of Kansans.
Urging his colleagues, he said, “You’ll have the opportunity to provide clean air to employees and patrons of almost any workplace. This is a bill you’ll be able to tell your children when you go home that you voted for clean air in Kansas.”
The legislation will ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other businesses. Cities that want stricter bans are allowed to do so.
Critics said the ban is an infringement on the rights of businesses and local governments to decide whether to restrict smoking.
They also blasted the proposal for exempting the gambling floors of state-owned casinos, some private clubs and 20 percent of hotel and motel rooms.
“It’s not a comprehensive clean air act. It’s a farce,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita.
Landwehr, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, asked for more time to craft a compromise. Her committee had an alternative that would have permitted smoking in restaurants and bars in designated areas and would have pre-empted local ordinances, such as the one in Lawrence. Parkinson had called that bill a “fraud” and supporters of a ban said they were tired of waiting. The issue has been debated off and on for four years by the Legislature.
Of the area delegation, Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, voted for the measure. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, and Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, voted against it.