On a vote of 62-49, the bill was re-referred to the joint Health committee. With just over one week left in the 2012 session, House Bill 2690 will die, having literally met its makers.
According to Otto, Crum told the GOP caucus he would ask to amend HB 2690 to remove the casino’s exemption from the smoking ban. Some ban proponents have sought a total ban on public smoking with no exemptions.
Crum’s motion would have led to hours of debate over both the smoking ban and gambling, Otto said. Crum did not respond to email and phone requests for comment.
Sheila Martin, a Hutchinson tavern owner leading the fight against the smoking ban, said Crum divided and conquered the bill’s potential supporters.
“They’re going to keep the casinos against the bars,” she said.
She said Crum’s message to the bill’s supporters was, “If you try to help these little bars, we’re going to take away your (casino) exemption.
Legislators included the casino exemption over worries that the ban would hurt casino business and thus state tax revenue.
Martin said she is deeply disappointed by Friday’s action in the House and concerned about bar owners who are withering under the ban. Her tavern is classified as a private club and is exempted from the ban.
“I wanted to hear someone get up and tell the truth,” Martin said. “We had nothing said. No truth.”
KansasWatchdog has reported on the loss of private property rights under the ban as well as false and misleading information in medical studies on second-hand smoke and the harm smoking bans cause to local business.
“The ban that we’ve passed is terrible,” Otto said. “Also, it’s embarrassing. The state-owned casinos have it but their competitors can’t.”
But Otto felt the pressure of Crum’s threatened stall.
“It looks pretty bad to the public when we have so many very important issues that we have not gotten to that we would spend time on a House bill that was not going to go anywhere,” Otto said.
The Legislature still has to produce redistricting maps and a state budget and has not found agreement with the Senate on KPERS public employee retirement reform, school funding reform and several other key issues high on the 2012 agenda.
The 2010 Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act instituted a statewide public smoking ban that superseded local bans that weren’t at least as restrictive as the state ban. Wichita’s smoking ban ordinance allowed businesses to permit smoking in separate smoking areas with no air passage to non-smoking areas.
According to city officials no complaints were received during the 19 months the ordinance was in effect.
Changes in Senate leadership are the key to fixing a bad law, according to Otto.
Otto said the public needs to understand that elections count, especially GOP Senate primary elections.
“They’re going to have to elect people that are for individual and private property rights, not a ‘Mother-may-I’ society,” Otto said.
Even if HB 2960 had survived debate and won approval in the House, it would have to be assigned to one of the few Senate committees that could hear bills during the veto session of the Legislature. That’s something Otto said Senate President Steve Morris wouldn’t do.
Otto calls the Kansas Senate “the Senetary,” “Where things go to get buried 6 feet under.”
“I don’t see this changing,” Martin said. “As long as people think we can change this by voting for Republicans — and half the Republicans are RINOs — what can I do?”
Congratulations: You’re part of Big Tobacco! (kansaswatchdog.org)
A Tale of Two Studies (kansaswatchdog.org)
State Ignores Financial Damage of Smoking Ban (kansaswatchdog.org)
Kansas Bar Owner Fights for Property Rights Across the U.S. (kansaswatchdog.org)
Governor Candidates Against Statewide Smoking Ban, Casino Hypocrisy (kansaswatchdog.org)
St. Louis Fed: No Ifs, Ands or Butts, Smoking Ban Hurt Revenues (kansaswatchdog.org)
Smoking Ban Passes House, Governor Says He’ll Sign (kansaswatchdog.org)
Senate, in Push for Smoking Ban Exempting Casinos, Cancels House Meeting (kansaswatchdog.org)
Smoking Ban Advocate Says Some Claims Just Smoke (kansaswatchdog.org)