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House kills bar smoking ban

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House kills bar smoking ban
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

BISMARCK -- The House snuffed a smoking ban for North Dakota bars and hotel rooms Thursday.

Opponents of House Bill 1213 said an existing smoking ban law is sufficient and it constituents who runs the bars will suffer the most, if the law is beefed up.

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"Light a red one up on this bill," said Rep. Mike Schatz, R-New England, referring to the House's electronic board that shows "no" votes in red.

The vote to defeat the bill was 59-33.

Many members said the state law passed four years ago, which banned smoking from virtually all public places and places of employment except bars and designated hotel rooms, had gone far enough.

"When will enough be enough?" asked Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier.

Headland and several other opponents said they don't smoke and don't like smoke but a stronger law is not needed because people can choose not to go into smoky bars.

"I really believe bars are different. I really believe hotel rooms are different," he said. "The greater point is why should we become even more of a nanny government?"

Opponents also said cities are free to enact their own ordinances for stiffer smoking bans.

"We've done what we needed to do (four years ago)," said Rep. Gary Kreidt, R-New Salem.

But one who favored the bill warned opponents that their ability to control state law on smoking bans will be wrested from them if they don't pass HB 1213.

"What I predict is it will be on the (statewide) ballot and it will pass," said Rep. Darrell Nottestad, R-Grand Forks. "And we'll have no control. It will be out of our hands completely."

The prime sponsor, Rep. Joyce Kingsbury, R-Grafton, said she introduced the bill at the request of constituents, including bar owners.

"I think North Dakotans are ready for a more strict law," she said.

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