Thank You to all CRA Members that Contacted their Legislators!
By Jan Moller, The Times-Picayune, The Times-Picayune
The state Senate rejected legislation Wednesday that would have outlawed smoking in Louisiana bars, handing a victory to bar and gambling interests that lobbied against the ban.
The 22-15 rejection of Senate Bill 133 by Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr., D-Livonia, marks at least the third time that lawmakers have refused to expand the state's 2006 law that banned smoking in restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
Supporters said the bill is needed to protect the health of bartenders, waitresses and others who work in smoke-filled environments, citing figures that show hundreds of deaths in Louisiana each year can be attributed to secondhand smoke.
"It fundamentally comes down to who are we interested in protecting," Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said. "I want to stand on the side of people and their health."
As the bill left the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, it would have banned smoking in all bars, but would have continued to allow the practice in casinos. But Marionneaux offered a floor amendment that called for a total ban, including Indian and non-Indian casinos.
That amendment fell on a 21-15 vote.
But opponents said the bill would hit the state in the pocketbook by driving smokers - and the tax revenue they bring in - to other states.
"Those people who like to smoke...are going to go to the people who will receive them and cater to their wants," said Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish, R-Jennings, who said the ban could have a negative impact on riverboat casinos in Lake Charles.