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Statewide Smoking Ban Passes Out Of Senate Committee
Updated May 5, 2013 12:10 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(Indianapolis) - Members of the Indiana Senate voted 29 to 21 to pass a heavily amended statewide smoking ban Wednesday.

The vote represents the strongest support yet for a statewide ban on smoking in public places. But supporters of the ban said it hardly feels like a victory.

"There are protections in there for folks in the workplace," said Republican Senator Beverly Gard. "But it's not the bill obviously that some of us would like to see it."

On Tuesday, the Senate passed 10 of 29 filed amendments, adding on a slew of exemptions to the bill. The biggest one included an exemption for bars, which was a key element for those who see the ban as a protection for those who work in bars and taverns.

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"And I heard somebody at the microphone yesterday say well you can always go find a job somewhere else," said Democrat Senator Vi Simpson. "But that's not a reality. "

Those who voted against the bill argued it was an example of government intrusion into Hoosiers' lives.

"It's just a matter of time we'll have government telling us what will be on our menus, how much we're allowed to weigh," said Republican Senator Jim Tomes. "Sugar is going to be regulated like tobacco and alcohol."

Republican Senator Phil Boots echoed that thought.

"Next we'll be telling folks how many Snicker bars they can buy in a year, how many hamburgers, how many cokes, et cetera," Boots said.

Democrat Tim Skinner refuted the argument about government intrusion by likening it to recent battles over labor unions.

"Do you not remember voting for the right-to-work bill," Skinner said. "Do you not remember taking away the rights of collective bargaining from teachers last year?"

Some key testimony came from Senator David Long, who had voted against a smoking ban as a member of the Fort Wayne City Council. Long said times have changed and people know much more about the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Long said he was only able to vote in favor of the smoking ban bill as long as it contained the exemption for bars. That exemption could prove to be a deal breaker when the bill goes back to a House Conference Committee to hash out the changes made in the Senate.

Democrat Representative Charlie Brown said he and other supporters would not sign a bill that exempts bars.

"That's the number one target, the bars," Brown said. "And we limp along if we don't at least have them out of it this year."

Brown said members of the House Conference Committed will get to work on the bill as soon as possible, maybe even as early as Thursday.
Members of the Senate debated 29 different amendments Tuesday. Amendments critics said render the bill virtually useless.

(Indianapolis) - Members of the Indiana Senate voted 29 to 21 to pass a heavily amended statewide smoking ban Wednesday.

The vote represents the strongest support yet for a statewide ban on smoking in public places. But supporters of the ban said it hardly feels like a victory.

"There are protections in there for folks in the workplace," said Republican Senator Beverly Gard. "But it's not the bill obviously that some of us would like to see it."

On Tuesday, the Senate passed 10 of 29 filed amendments, adding on a slew of exemptions to the bill. The biggest one included an exemption for bars, which was a key element for those who see the ban as a protection for those who work in bars and taverns.

"And I heard somebody at the microphone yesterday say well you can always go find a job somewhere else," said Democrat Senator Vi Simpson. "But that's not a reality. "

Those who voted against the bill argued it was an example of government intrusion into Hoosiers' lives.

"It's just a matter of time we'll have government telling us what will be on our menus, how much we're allowed to weigh," said Republican Senator Jim Tomes. "Sugar is going to be regulated like tobacco and alcohol."

Republican Senator Phil Boots echoed that thought.

"Next we'll be telling folks how many Snicker bars they can buy in a year, how many hamburgers, how many cokes, et cetera," Boots said.

Democrat Tim Skinner refuted the argument about government intrusion by likening it to recent battles over labor unions.

"Do you not remember voting for the right-to-work bill," Skinner said. "Do you not remember taking away the rights of collective bargaining from teachers last year?"

Some key testimony came from Senator David Long, who had voted against a smoking ban as a member of the Fort Wayne City Council. Long said times have changed and people know much more about the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Long said he was only able to vote in favor of the smoking ban bill as long as it contained the exemption for bars. That exemption could prove to be a deal breaker when the bill goes back to a House Conference Committee to hash out the changes made in the Senate.

Democrat Representative Charlie Brown said he and other supporters would not sign a bill that exempts bars.

"That's the number one target, the bars," Brown said. "And we limp along if we don't at least have them out of it this year."

Brown said members of the House Conference Committed will get to work on the bill as soon as possible, maybe even as early as Thursday.



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