Pro-smoking bill doesn’t make deadline

aspecht@newsobserver.comMay 24, 2013 

HB150PROTEST-NE-031813-TEL

Knightdale mayor Russell Killen speaks against House Bill 150 at a Wake County Mayors Association press conference in March. HB 150 is still alive, but another bill he opposed, Senate Bill 703, likely died by not clearing the Senate by May 17.

TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • Still alive

    Another bill of local interest is House Bill 150, which limits local governments’ ability to set design standards for houses. Each Wake County mayor opposes the bill, and Knightdale’s Russell Killen has been one of it’s most outspoken critics. Because the bill was passed by the House before the crossover deadline, it still has a chance to become law by the end of this legislative session.

— Ah, ah, ah – put out that Pall Mall.

Cigarettes are still banned at many parks and community colleges, after all.

Senate Bill 703, which aimed to repeal local smoking bans in public places, is likely dead because it failed to pass the House or the Senate by May 17, the legislature’s self-imposed deadline for most bills. After the Senate Agriculture, Environment, Natural Resources Committee passed the bill, it stalled in the State and Local Government Committee and never reached the Senate floor.

Bill sponsor Sen. Buck Newton, a Wilson Republican, hoped to crack down on local governments he considered overbearing for restricting the outdoor use of a “legal product,” as he pointed out during the first committee meeting.

But local leaders, including Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen, argued the bill would promote littering and pose a health risk to children.

“As part of our effort to encourage healthy lifestyles, we’re about to open a new, state-of-the-art playground,” Killen said, referring to Knightdale Station, the 70-acre park Knightdale plans to open this summer. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to allow parents to smoke around children.”

In preparation for Knightdale Station, Knightdale in October became the second eastern Wake town to prohibit the use of tobacco products on town property. Wendell banned the use of tobacco products on town property several years ago. Zebulon prohibits smoking in town buildings and cars, but allows it on outdoor property.

There are ways to bring a supposedly dead bill back to life. For instance, a legislator could add a fee to the bill or add it as an amendment to the proposed budget. However, it’s unclear whether Newton would consider those options in this case – especially since the bill didn’t clear the State and Local Government Committee. Newton did not return calls seeking comment.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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