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News Summary

State lawmakers seek to revive smoking ban

Publication Date: 6/10/2008
  • Author:John L. Micek
  • Publication:Allentown Morning Call

Senate Democrats have come up with a way to pass a smoking-ban bill that lets Scranton and Allegheny County have their own anti-smoking laws -- just like Philadelphia does.

Instead of voting Monday on a bill that was the product of a joint House and Senate conference committee -- one that does not give Scranton and Allegheny County autonomy -- Senate Democrats came up with a back-door approach.

They want to take an earlier version of the bill and rework it to contain the compromise language agreed to by negotiators as well as language to reinstate Scranton's and Allegheny's former anti-smoking ordinances.

If the Democrats are successful in their effort, the Senate would vote on the repurposed bill later this week or early next week. If approved, it would be sent to the House for a vote.

Senate rules prevent lawmakers from amending a bill that is a product of the conference committee, as the latest bill before the Senate on Monday was. They could only accept or reject it.

''We're still in a position to negotiate to see if we can't get that done,'' Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow, D-Lackawanna, said.

Gov. Ed Rendell has called on lawmakers to swiftly pass a bill, and on Monday he seemed to smooth the path, saying through an aide that he would accept a bill that covered Allegheny County and Scranton.