Kaine wants smoking ban strengthened
Gov. Tim Kaine just wrapped up a press conference where he hammered the smoking ban bill that moved through the House, and at one point looked like a major legislative victory . The problem, according to Kaine, is that the version that passed last night is only a shell of the agreement that he and House speaker William Howell agreed to.
In the midst of negotiations regarding the bill last night, a laundry list of amendments were added that weakened the force of the original concept. Among them pushing the date of implementation back to January 1, 2010 (after Kaine would be out of office) and still allowing smoking in bars and restaurants that do not allow patrons under the age of 18. (So you neighborhood family chain would be smoke free, but you still come home after a night out at the sports bar smelling like smoke).
Kaine said he was happy the ban passed, but is still going to add amendments of his own and will work with his friends in the Senate to beef the plan up. That sounds like a good idea, but it will then be forced to head back to the House where support is tenuous at best.
The Times-Dispatch has an excellent recap of the vote where they show the divide that is growing in the Republican party. Many Republicans voted against the plan yesterday and it was only after the softening of the bill that it became palatable for many who had mixed feelings. Now that it has passed, the most vociferous tobacco defenders seem prepared to not back down, while at the same time anti-smoking advocates are renewing their calls for a bill that contains the true restrictions they were calling for.
It appears this fight is far from over.