Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Smoking ban bill clears House committee for first time; but sponsor says she won't take it farther this session

A measure for a statewide smoking ban passed the House Health and Welfare Committee today, the first time such a bill has cleared committee in legislative history, Deborah Yetter reports for The Courier-Journal.

But House Bill 289 is not expected to be called for a vote this year, said its sponsor Rep. Susan Westrom, right, D-Lexington. "I'm not someone who wants to shove something down someone's throat," she said, adding she plans to reintroduce the measure next year.

Westrom predicts support will continue to grow as "people come to realize local smoking bans have worked well in cities, including Louisville, Lexington and Owensboro. Already, 23 states ban smoking statewide in indoor public spaces," Yetter reports.

Support for the bill was given a significant boost when the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce stepped behind it. President David Adkisson said the majority of business owners the chamber talked to support a ban. "We now feel like it needs to be statewide and not a patchwork," he said.

HB 289 passed with a 10-2 vote. Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, a candidate for Congress in the Fourth District, was one of two Republicans to vote against the measure, calling it "well meaning" but too intrusive on people's rights. "It is not the role of the government to go this far," she said. (Read more)

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