Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

Smoking ban passes Senate

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
Morris, 56267
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

ST. PAUL - Actors would be able to smoke on stage and bar patrons may be able to step outside to light up, but public smoking would be severely limited under a bill senators passed Friday.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The House was expected to debate the measure late Friday, with a much more divided chamber.

"Tobacco is a killer and it is one of the major killers in our society," Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said during a brief debate resulting in a 43-21 Senate support of a statewide smoking ban.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he supports a smoking ban and plans to sign the bill.

Dille said as many Minnesotans die due to tobacco in one or two decades as have died in all of the country's wars.

But Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, saw a contradiction in comparing fighting for freedom to restricting smoking.

"This is not American to not give America a choice," Tomassoni said.

Tomassoni came out on the losing side as lawmakers opted to ban smoking in nearly every Minnesota workplace and other indoor public areas. Exceptions would include motel rooms, smoke shops, farms and actors in theatric productions.

Local governments will be able to enact stricter no-smoking measures such as banning people from smoking in patios outside of bars.

The bill passed on Friday was a compromise drawn from earlier proposals the House and Senate passed. Dropped from earlier versions of the bill was allowing for smoking rooms in bars.

Tax OK'd again

The Democrat-controlled House sent a property tax reform bill to the governor Friday that stands little chance of survival.

As House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall said: "This bill is going down, down, down in the blazing ring of fire."

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty promises to veto the bill, which also was part of a broader tax bill that representatives passed earlier, but is stalled in House-Senate negotiations.

The property tax bill author, Rep. Paul Marquart, said the bill that passed 73-58 is important.

"We have a chance today to send a very clear and strong message, not only to the governor, but to the state of Minnesota ... that we are standing up for you," the Dilworth Democrat said.

The bill greatly increases an existing property tax refund provision so that every homeowner who pays more than 2 percent of their income would receive a check. Also, the state would send schools money to lower their property tax levies.

The money to lower property taxes would come from an increased income tax on the state's richest residents.

While Marquart said the bill would cut 90 percent of homeowners' property taxes, Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, said the promised veto means that won't happen.

"You can say it and say it again, but it doesn't make it so," Kohls told Marquart.

Rep. Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said Democrats need to get off their tax-increasing bent before the legislative session ends May 21.

"You are in an uncontrollable bent to raise taxes," Sviggum said. "Get it out of your system ... then we have seven days to get down to the work on Minnesota."

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said that only one person in Sviggum's district would have to pay the higher income tax rate, but many of the 1,661 Kenyon residents would receive benefits.

Amendment sails

Even supporters were surprised when senators overwhelmingly voted to ask Minnesotans to amend the state constitution, providing funding for arts, clean-water and outdoors programs.

The 52-14 tally came after both supporters and opponents had predicted a close vote. Five rural Democrats joined seven conservative Republicans and two Twin Cities Democrats in opposing the bill.

The bill, which would provide the funding by increasing sales taxes 0.375 percent, is a constitutional amendment. Some of those who voted against the amendment wanted the tax increase and funding dedication to be in law, not the constitution.

Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said legislators need more flexibility than a constitutional amendment would allow.

"I don't know what new information will come to us five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now," Bakk said in an emotional speech.

Bakk said voting for the constitutional amendment just turns the decision over to the voters in next year's general election.

"That's not leadership," Bakk said. "I think what people are hungry for in government today is leadership and we have a lack of it in government all over this country."

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, sponsor of the measure, said there are different kinds of courage.

"We need to set aside reasons to be against this ... and get something done for the future of Minnesota," the Minneapolis Democrat said.

"This generation needs to do something so the generation after this is able to participate in the kind of outdoor activities and the kind of culture activities we have been able to experience," he added.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said there are more important things to fund than programs in the amendment, citing a need to help veterans.

"Our veterans are coming back today sightless, armless, limbless," he said.

A House version of the bill continued on Friday to make its way through committees for a possible full-House vote in the next few days.

----

Here is how local senators voted on a bill to amend the state constitution to dedicate funds for clean-water, arts and outdoors programs:

Thomas Bakk, DFL-Cook, no

Steve Dille, R-Dassel, no

Michelle Fischbach R-Paynesville, yes

Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm, yes

Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, yes

Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, yes

Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, yes

Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, no

Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, yes

Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, no

Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, yes

Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, yes

Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, yes

Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, yes

Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, yes

Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, no

Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, yes

Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, yes

LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, absent

David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, yes

Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, no

Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, yes

----

Here is how local senators voted on a statewide smoking ban:

Thomas Bakk, DFL-Cook, no

Steve Dille, R-Dassel, yes

Michelle Fischbach R-Paynesville, yes

Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm, yes

Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, yes

Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, no

Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, yes

Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, yes

Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, yes

Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, yes

Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, yes

Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, no

Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, yes

Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, no

Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, yes

Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, no

Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, yes

Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, yes

LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, absent

David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, no

Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, absent

Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, no

----

Here is how local representatives voted on the property tax relief bill:

Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, yes

Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, yes

Julie Bunn, DFL-Lake Elmo, no

Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, no

David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, yes

Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, yes

Tim Faust, DFL-Mora, yes

Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, no

Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, no

Larry Haws, DFL-St. Cloud, no

Bud Heidgerken, R-Freeport, no

Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson, yes

Larry Howes, R-Walker, absent

Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, yes

Mike Jaros, R-Duluth, yes

Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, yes

Lyle Koenen, DFL-Grove City, yes

Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, no

Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, yes

Doug Magus, R-Slayton, no

Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, yes

Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, no

Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, yes

Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, yes

Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, no

Dave Olin, DFL-Thief River Falls, yes

Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, yes

Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount, no

Aaron Peterson, DFL-Appleton, yes

Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, yes

Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, yes

Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, no

Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, yes

Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, yes

Dean Simpson, R-Perham, no

Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, no

Marsha Swails, DFL-Woodbury, no

Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, no

Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, no

Sandy Wollschlager, DFL-Cannon Falls, yes

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness