Lawmakers are working on a final draft of a statewide smoking ban, but there are still significant sticking points to overcome and only three days of session left.
Cicero Republican Representative Eric Turner is one of the ban’s House authors. He says a total exemption for bars and taverns remains the biggest point of contention between the House and Senate. But Turner says it’s not the only stumbling block. He’s concerned about a Senate amendment that would prevent local governments from passing tougher bans in the future.
“I’ve kind of said I’m not going to sign a conference committee report with preemption in it because I don’t want to start down that path that takes anything away from locals to further regulate,” he says.
Turner says he’s still pushing hard to keep a total bar and tavern exemption out of the bill.
“I felt strongly about that. I gave a little bit in the House with an 18 month exemption and, you know, it’s a delicate balance because we’re still trying to get 26 votes over there and 51 over here and so we’ll see.”
House co-sponsor Charlie Brown says there’s also the issue of whether the ban would require private clubs to have separate ventilation systems if they want to both allow smoking and allow children into the facility. Ultimately, Brown says he’s not sure the ban will get passed this year.
“All things are possible, yes. I mean, we’ve tried six years, what will seven do?”
Brown says he’s not sure he’ll be able to support a ban with a full exemption for bars and taverns.
“I am and I think members of my caucus are hesitant to talk about leaving all bars in there rather than as it left here, the 18 month reprieve,” Brown says.
Turner meanwhile says he remains confident a ban will get passed this session.