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Will the Kentucky State Senate Move on Statewide Smoking Ban Legislation?

Kentucky state Capitol
Kentucky state Capitol

All eyes are on Kentucky's state senators to see if they’ll move on the House’s proposed statewide smoking ban.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, has said he doesn’t see support for the bill in the upper chamber.

“If there is, and individuals want to vote on it and can get committee votes and want to get it to the floor it will move in the normal and ordinary course,” Stivers said.

Supporters had initially hoped the bill would be assigned to the Health and Welfare committee, chaired by bill sponsor Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. However the legislation was assigned to the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, signaling there might be a tough road ahead for the smoking ban.

“I don't know what that's going to mean, I'd have to look up the members of that committee to find out for sure,” said Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Winchester Republican who supports the bill.

Alvarado, who is in his first year in the Senate, said it will be an uphill battle to convince legislators who have already made up their mind.

“It's still a romantic idea to think that we can still reason with others and try to convince others to take a different position and that's what I'm hoping to do,” Alvarado said.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville and a co-sponsor of the bill, remained hopeful about the legislation's prospects, arguing that the bill should appeal to fiscally conservative legislators.

“People need to realize there's no bill we can pass this session that will save more money than the smoking ban,” McGarvey said.

The Democratic-led House amended the bill before passing it last week, exempting cities that have already passed smoking bans, plus cigar bars and private clubs.

Rep. Tanya Pullin, a Democrat from South Shore, pointed out that cities could pass more lenient smoking bans before the law would go into effect.

Adams said she wasn’t sure that the House’s amendment to allow local governments to pass their own smoking bans would garner enough votes to pass the bill in the Senate, but said that she’s “talking about all the options. It’s floating out there as well.”

When asked if he thought the bill would be more appealing if local governments could opt out of the ban, Stivers said he hadn't considered the idea yet.

"I truly haven't thought about it much--it's just a new idea," Stivers said on Thursday.