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News Summary

Smoking ban vote delayed

Publication Date: 2008-05-15
  • Author:Gary Heinlein
  •, MI

House wants more time to decide if it can go along with stricter Senate plan.

House Democrats are scrambling to decide how they will handle surprise Senate-passed legislation that broadens their own ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other workplaces.

The Senate version, passed last week, prohibits smoking indoors, including cigar bars, bingo parlors and Detroit's three casinos -- three places exempted from a no-smoking bill the House approved in 2007. Some members of the Detroit delegation in the House and the bill's sponsor, Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint, still prefer the exemptions, especially those for the casinos.

If the House doesn't go along with the more restrictive Senate version, the bill will be sent to a conference committee, where the two houses will seek a compromise.

"That is the issue now, and it's what we'll debate," Clack said Wednesday as the House delayed final action on the smoking ban to allow members time to consider their differences.

Clack also chairs the Legislature's black caucus, which is split over the differing versions of the smoking ban. Rumors of arcane strategies to defeat the legislation were rife in the Capitol on Tuesday morning, when the Senate-passed bill still hadn't been sent to the House chamber. The legislation finally was transmitted after the House adjourned Tuesday afternoon.