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Oklahoma Senate Panel Kills Stricter Smoking Bans
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An Oklahoma Senate panel has snuffed out a measure that would have allowed cities and towns to enact stricter bans on smoking.
The Senate General Government Committee voted 6-2 on Monday against the proposal that was endorsed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in her State of the State address.
Gvoernor Fallin's office released this statement Monday afternoon:
“This is a victory for tobacco lobbyists and the tobacco industry. It’s a defeat for the state of Oklahoma and anyone who cares about improving our health. Moving forward, Governor Fallin will be pursuing alternative measures aimed at reducing deaths and illnesses caused by smoking and second hand smoke.”
The Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act by Ardmore Republican Sen. Frank Simpson would have allowed local governments to adopt stricter smoking ordinances than state law. Currently, municipalities are prohibited from doing so.
Simpson said his idea allowed more local control, but opponents argued it was unfair to businesses that had spent thousands of dollars complying with current state law that allows, for example, smoking in bars or separately ventilated smoking rooms in restaurants.
"It came down to a decision over property rights," State Senator and Committee Chairman Greg Treat said. Treat was one of six who voted down the bill. "It was a tough choice, it was the first time I went to a hearing and did not have my mind made up," Treat said. The Senator said in the end, after an hour and a half meeting he voted in favor of allowing businesses to control what happens on their own property.
"I am really disappointed," OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said. He came out in favor of the bill with Gov. Fallin. "Big tobacco wins again," Cornett said since this bill continues to not advance to the floor it may be time to look at other ways to reduce Oklahoma's smoking rate of 48th in the nation. "I think it's time to take a step back and see if there is not a better way to approach this," Mayor Cornett said.
Posted: Monday, February 18 2013, 09:54 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Texas search team to help after Okla. twister
May 21, 2013 14:09 GMT
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Members of an elite search and rescue team from Texas have been dispatched to Oklahoma to help with recovery following a deadly tornado.
Gov. Rick Perry on Monday night announced activation of Texas Task Force 1 (one). The emergency response came after a massive twister Monday afternoon in the Moore, Okla., area left at least two dozen people dead.
The Texas rescue group includes about 70 first responders who specialize in victim extraction and medical treatment. The team also includes search and rescue dogs, hazardous material specialists and structural engineers.
Members of Texas Task Force 1 last month deployed to the town of West after a fertilizer plant explosion that's claimed 15 lives.
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