Westrom: House leadership blocking smoke free bill from coming up for a vote

03/06/2014 07:39 PM

Pointing the finger a her own party’s leadership team, Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, said Thursday the statewide smoke-free bill has lost steam and will likely fail to get a vote on the House floor for the fourth consecutive session.

“Some members of leadership do represent a very rural area — they’re not going to back it for me, and I just I think that’s probably how it fell out,” Westrom told reporters on Thursday after the House adjourned.

The House Democratic leadership team includes two members from Eastern Kentucky in House Speaker Greg Stumbo who is from Prestonsburg and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Rowan County.

“It was dragging.” That’s how Westrom described the bill’s movement among House members in a year in which all 100 seats are up for re-election.

Westrom is the sponsor of the smoke-free bill that would ban smoking in bars, restaurants and most other workplaces across Kentucky. And as the commitments to vote for it and explanations from her colleagues shifted after clearing committee, Westrom said she sensed the window was closed for the bill.

“You get one story here from one member and one story here from another member. And you know when there were inconsistencies in the numbers I knew that there were some things going on and I may as well face the music,” Westrom said.

Westrom said not even Gov. Steve Beshear’s phone calls could save the bill. After making calls, Beshear told Westrom that Republicans couldn’t commit unless they saw the bill was on its way to passage as the votes rolled in on the floor.

“Nobody seemed comfortable with how many Democratic votes would light up the board which would entice the Republicans,” Westrom said.

Westrom said the “big discussion” will be held during the November elections, because of the advocates who know where legislators stand.

While the House bill is pretty much stomped out this session “unless we have riots outside” Westrom said there is still the prospect of the Senate taking up the issue before the House.

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, who will leave the Senate after this session has filed the same bill in the Senate.

“I think Senator Denton is a very strong personality to deal with and it is her swan song, so perhaps the bill will be heard,” Westrom said.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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