A proposed smoking bill that is referred to as the “take it outside act” is continuing to gain traction in the Alaska Legislature, passing the Senate’s Judiciary Committee with four of the seven members voting for its advancement, two to amend it and one member voting with no recommendation.
The bill, S.B. 63, was introduced by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Kenai/Soldotna, back in February 2017, and passed the Senate by a 15-5 vote in March. Once it was transferred to the House at the end of that month, it stagnated in its journey after the House Community & Regional Affairs Committee. It ended up being moved to the House Judiciary Committee after a 3-3-1 vote, though it didn’t receive its first action by that group until just about a week ago.
It now heads to the House Rules Committee where it is scheduled for a hearing at 6:15 p.m. local time today, and is likely to meet its toughest critic, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, who chairs the committee. She effectively killed a similar bill in 2016 and has remained a staunch opponent of the bill.
The bill effectively bans smoking in enclosed public places, including restaurants and bars, though doesn’t go after parks or other open spaces. Retail tobacco stores that get at least 90 percent of their sales from tobacco would gain an exemption from the ban, as would private clubs in operation as of Jan. 1, 2017.
The bill has added a number of cosponsors in both chambers of the legislature since its debut; eight senators have signed on as well as 21 state representatives.