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Lawmakers Accused of “Running Out the Clock” on Smoke-Free Law

March 6, 2008

Madison, WI – With the Wisconsin legislative session ending next week, supporters of a smoke-free workplace law are accusing leading state lawmakers of "running out the clock" to avoid a vote on it. Dona Wininsky with the American Lung Association in Wisconsin says there's enough support in both chambers to pass the smoke-free law – but she says leaders in the Senate and the Assembly aren't letting the bills see the light of day.

"The general public in Wisconsin clearly wants these smoke-free air bills, and yet the bills are not allowed to come up for a full vote in either the Assembly or the Senate."

Legislative leaders have said they want to iron out some more compromises before bringing the measures to a vote.

Wininsky says people from around the state have been contacting lawmakers to call for a vote on the bill – and she says it's up to rank-and-file lawmakers to make sure a vote happens.

"They need to be insisting that their leadership allow them to vote on these bills. The problem is, the people who have the power to decide which bills come up for a vote are not letting their members have a vote on this."

The state's Tavern League opposes the law, saying it will hurt business and infringe on the rights of business owners. Wininsky says it's a vital public health issue because of major damage done by second-hand smoke.

Rob Ferrett/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - WI