FRANKFORT, Kentucky — A Kentucky House bill that would enact a statewide ban on smoking in shared public spaces and places of employment is dead for the year after meeting strong opposition, the sponsor says.
Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington said Thursday that despite high public approval and Democratic leadership urging progress on the bill, it is unlikely to be taken up for a vote on the House floor this session. Westrom says it's due to pressure from lobbying organizations and some lawmakers.
"It appears that the bill has been pronounced dead for the 2014 session," said Westrom.
She said Gov. Steve Beshear and the House leadership were not convinced there were enough votes for the measure.
"Quite frankly, I just don't think they wanted to risk it in case it was an uncomfortable vote for somebody," she said. "I think Farm Bureau probably scared some people."
However, Westrom says she remains hopeful that companion legislation in the Senate will pass both chambers.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he didn't kill the bill but that it had been steadily losing support since being filed.
"The governor's been working on it. We've been working on it but it lost steam as the days went by," said Stumbo. "In my judgment it never had the votes necessary to pass."
He said lawmakers in both parties indicated they didn't want to deal with the issue in an election year.
Lobbyist Jeff Harper is the Director of Public Affairs for Kentucky Farm Bureau. Harper confirmed that Farm Bureau has been lobbying House members against the bill, including House leadership.
According to a February report from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, Kentucky Farm Bureau spent $15,460 on lobbying efforts in January alone.
The legislation is House Bill 173.