FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, January 28, 2010
The 2011 legislative session is well under way and we have had the chance to listen to Governor Daniels' State of the State address, Chief Justice Shepard's State of the Judiciary, and we received the Governor's projected budget for 2011. Also, I have also had the opportunity to file several bills and I will be updating you on the status of these bills as we progress through session.
As a House Republican legislator our agenda this legislative session can be best described as a "full plate." As legislators, we will be dealing with a wide variety of important issues. Of the bills filed this past week, the one that generated attention was the statewide smoking ban. As a member of the Public Health Committee, I will be heavily involved in this debate and would like to hear your thoughts and concerns on this issue.
As many of you may know, plans to ban smoking in public places in Indiana have been on-going for several years. Many bills have been introduced and debated in the General Assembly, but none of them have ever been presented to the Governor. The bill the Public Health Committee is proposing this legislative session prohibits smoking in public places, which includes areas of employment; however, an employer is not allowed to fire or refuse hiring an individual for reporting a violation of the smoking ban.
Currently, Indiana is one of 14 states that do not have a state law prohibiting smoking in public.
The primary concern this session is whether or not to ban smoking in places of business, particularly casinos. If we were to not allow smoking in casinos, it could cost the state $95.3 to $187.7 million in revenue for 2012 and $97.6 to $192.2 million in revenue for the year 2013.
This is why we have added amendments to exclude gaming facilities, hotels, bars, and tobacco retail stores from the smoking ban. These types of businesses rely on allowing individuals to smoke on their premises. This was an amendment that I supported because I believe that businesses should not suffer from the consequences of this bill.
In addition to the above exemptions, we have also included allowing fraternal and health clubs the right to permit smoking with the exception of those under the age of 18.
As a legislator and a pharmacist, I understand the dangers of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is known to have serious health consequences; however, secondhand smoke is costly to the state. Secondhand smoke costs Indiana about $390.4 million in medical expenses, which amounts to $62 per person a year.
Those advocating both sides of the debate have good reason to be heard and as we progress during this legislative session, compromise and cooperation will be key in how this debate is shaped. As your state representative, know that I value personal choice and understand that business owners are entitled to decide how their businesses are run.
I encourage you to voice your thoughts on this issue and on other issues we will be dealing with this session. Thank you for your continued support.