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Publish Date: 5/5/2005

House passes ban on smoking


DENVER — The House of Representatives gave final approval Wednesday to a proposed statewide smoking prohibition and a measure that would ban workplace bias against gays and lesbians.

One Republican, Winter Park Rep. Al White, joined all 35 House Democrats in Wednesday’s 36-29 vote for Senate Bill 28, the measure that would prohibit an employer from discriminating against job applicants or employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

There was no renewal of Tuesday’s debate that preceded initial House approval of the anti-discrimination measure, which now returns to the Senate for consideration.

Denver Democratic Sen. Jennifer Veiga, the Senate sponsor of SB28, said she wanted to study the House amendments to the Senate-approved version of her bill before deciding whether to ask senators to approve those revisions.

House support for and opposition to Senate Bill 207, the proposed smoking ban, were bipartisan.

“I look at this as a loss of freedoms,” said Loveland Republican Rep. Jim Welker, who argued against SB207 on Wednesday.

Welker said if businesses want to allow smoking inside their buildings, they should be able to, and if people don’t want to patronize those businesses, they don’t have to.

“Give people their freedoms and vote no on this bill,” Welker urged House colleagues.

Proponents of the bill, however, have said employees and customers often do not now have a choice about being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Lawmakers voted 37-28 to approve the latest version of the anti-smoking measure.

The House-approved version would prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, pool halls and workplaces of businesses having four or more employees.

In its current form, SB207 would exempt casinos, bingo parlors, racetracks, retail tobacco businesses and 25 percent of a hotel’s rooms from the ban.

Among those voting for the bill Wednesday were Reps. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder; Dale Hall, R-Greeley; Bill Berens, R-Broomfield; Tom Plant, D-Nederland; and Alice Madden, D-Boulder. Voting against it were Reps. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville; and Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

SB207 now returns to the Senate, which last week endorsed a narrower smoking ban that would apply only to restaurants, cafés and certain other food-service establishments.

Denver Democratic Sen. Dan Grossman, who introduced SB207, said he would be consulting with organizations that helped him come up with the original Clean Indoor Air Act proposal before deciding whether to ask senators to go along with the more extensive House-approved version of his bill.

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