A bill that would bring about a new smoking ban in Alaska is gaining new traction, but only because it has been rewritten.
Senate Bill 63 has been in the works for over a year, but its destiny appeared doomed by way of a single legislator, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, who chairs the state’s House Rules Committee. Rep. LeDoux had refused to schedule a hearing for the bill this session, at least until this week.
The legislator told KTOO.org that while she has questions about the bill, she wanted to extend an olive branch to its supporters, and as such was willing to get it into a “reasonable form” in order to get it to the House floor.
For it to be in reasonable form, that meant removing the use of electronic cigarettes and marijuana from the bill, as well as giving municipalities the option to opt out of the workplace smoking ban.
The ban would still prohibit smoking in a significant number of public places, though the most notable would be restaurants, bars, and the common areas of apartment buildings and multi-family housing.
An exception for smoking in retail tobacco stores has been included, provided that the business is in a freestanding building or has a separate entrance from any attached businesses and does not allow smoke to travel into other attached businesses. Private clubs would also be allowed to permit smoking, provided that the club has been in continuous operation at the same location since Jan. 1, 2017, is not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, and is not a place of employment.
The bill must still go through the full legislative process, including getting passed by the House and returning to the Senate so that the amended version could be debated. Should the revised bill be passed, it would go into effect on Oct. 1.