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Pa. smoking ban debate moves along at slow burn

Publication Date: 2008-04-19
  • Publication:The Centre Daily Times

It would be an understatement to say that progress toward a statewide indoor smoking ban has moved along at a slow burn.

A dispute between the House and Senate over how strict to make the measure left the debate hanging when state budget negotiations concluded in July. The Senate favored a longer list of establishments where smoking would still be allowed.

A conference committee to resolve those differences wasn't appointed until December, but leaders hoped it could deliver a final proposal early this year.

Four months later, no compromise has emerged and it isn't clear if a scheduled April 29 meeting will yield one.

Even if it does, the legislative clock is ticking. Voting sessions after Tuesday's primary election are scheduled through mid-May, and then attention will turn toward the 2008-09 state budget. After the summer break, the November general election looms.

"There's a limited amount of time," said Jen Ebersole, state advocacy director for the American Heart Association. "We don't want this issue to get bogged down in the whole budget debate."