Archive for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Smoking ban hits snag in committee

January 30, 2007

By Scott Rothschild

Topeka - A proposed statewide ban on smoking in most indoor workplaces is smoldering in a Senate committee.

The Judiciary Committee was set to vote on the measure Tuesday, but a new amendment to the bill raised several questions, so Chairman John Vratil, R-Leawood, postponed action.

"I'm not sure we could discuss the bill long enough," Vratil said. Because of questions surrounding the proposal, "I'm in no hurry to pass this out of committee."

As introduced, Senate Bill 37 by Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, would impose a statewide ban on smoking in most indoor places where the public gathers.

But numerous amendments have been added to the legislation in committee. One would exempt cigar socials that benefit charities. Another would ensure that truckers could smoke while driving since their cabs are considered workplaces.

On Tuesday, Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, tried to amend the measure to allow counties to opt out of a smoking ban, with provisions for a county-wide election.

Schmidt said this would give voters the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

But several committee members questioned whether cities would be allowed to opt in and out if the bill became law, and how it would affect places, such as Lawrence, which already have a smoking ban.

Vratil said the committee will continue working on the bill.

- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-354-4222

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