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Kansas Casino Exemption Threat Kills Smoking Bill

By   /   May 4, 2012  /   4 Comments

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.

Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, told KansasWatchdog he decided to shut down the bill after a threat by Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, during Friday morning’s Republican caucus meeting.

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?”

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Related:

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)

 

 

 

 

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During his 28-year journalism career Soutar worked for the Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Knight Ridder Newspapers in Washington, D.C. From 1990 to 2008 he worked for the Wichita Eagle as a photo and graphics editor, producing special sections and writing stories on various subjects. He has received numerous international, national and regional journalism and design awards. Before his journalism career Soutar served in the U.S. Navy photographing and writing about events in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

  • http://www.antibrains.com Michael J. McFadden

    The casinos in Kansas are making the same mistake that the casinos in New Jersey made. When I met with one of the higher ranking casino association execs back around 2005 and told them they needed to work with the bars or they’d be next his response was, “Sorry Mr. McFadden. You don’t understand. They’ll NEVER be able to touch US. We bring in FAR too much money for their budgets.” A year or two later they got hit with a ban covering all their casino bar/restaurants and 75% of their gaming floor. Two years after that they managed to hold on to that last 25% only by the bare skin of their teeth, and they’ll likely find that last 25% under attack again this fall.

    The sheep who throw other sheep to the wolves end up with no one left to help them when it’s their turn for the dinner plate. Kansas casinos NEED to ally themselves with the small bars, nightclubs, private clubs, and bar/restaurant combos that are under attack by the national antismoking campaign

    Or they’ll simply be dessert.

    Michael J. McFadden

    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  • Sheila

    Crum got a $500 campaign donation from Johnson and Johnson last year. You know the J&J that sells Nicoderm Nicorette, Nicotrol, Nicoderm CQ. The J&J that has the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who grant funds the ban movement. Including the Cancer Society who is their main lobbyists. Nuff said?

  • Pam

    Get the bar owners in Crum(b)’s district and vote his anti-small business butt out of the legislature. If these people do NOT CARE about bars closing, people losing everything they have because it’s all tied up in their businesses, and bartenders losing THEIR JOBS, then let Crum(b) and all the other pharma funded politicians see how it feels to lose THEIR JOBS! ORGANIZE and VOTE THEM OUT! The American People are sick and tired of the games played with their lives. Make an example of Crum(b).

  • Bre

    “They’re going to have to elect people that are for individual and private property rights, not a ‘Mother-may-I’ society,” Otto said.”

    Well, we do, but they soon give way to the almighty dollar. So frustrating.