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Indiana’s House and Senate are at odds with two versions of a Smoke-Free bill. One side wants few restrictions and the other wants many – but time is quickly ticking as the adjournment of this year’s legislative session is today. Both sides of Indiana’s Congressional House believe that a state-wide smoking ban is in order. Representatives and Senators both feel the bill should be comprehensive. The challenge has been meeting in the middle between the two bills.
Bill sponsors are pushing to have bars included in the ban. The compromise circulating does not ban smoking in bars and is sparking some animosity. The House approved a ban on smoking in most public places with an 18-month exemption to bars. The Senate, however, eliminated the potential to ban smoking in bars entirely in the version of the bill that was passed last week.
Representative and Bill Sponsor Charlie Brown of Gary County said he hadn’t decided whether having the bar exemption in the bill would cause him to not vote for a compromised version. “I don’t know whether I can sign it with all those bars in there.” Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long said the exemption to bars was necessary to get lawmakers approval, including himself who has previously voted against smoking ban legislature that would ban smoking in bars and taverns.
The House-passed bill exempted casinos, private clubs, and cigar stores. The Senate version also added exemptions for veterans homes, nursing homes, and included a provision prohibiting cities and counties from adopting tougher, localized legislation.
Another Bill sponsor Representative Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said he was holding out for bars to be included in the ban. Indiana’s Governor supports including bars in the smoking ban and Turner believes this will help with gaining support for the more comprehensive smoking ban bill.
No matter which way Indiana’s State Congress opts to go, it is important that they find some middle ground between both sides – and fast. Time is ticking down with only hours left until they adjourn this session.
What would you rather see? Hazy bars or ones where people can breathe freely?