A statewide smoking ban has passed a legislative committee. Months after a holding a public hearing on the measure, the Senate health committee on Tuesday approved a comprehensive statewide smoking ban. Eau Claire Democrat Pat Kreitlow, argued for amending the bill to provide an exemption for bars and restaurants until April 1st, 2011. "Public opinion is clearly still very divided on this," said Kreitlow , who added that his amendment would be "most fair to thousands of small businesses in the state."
Kreitlow's amendment failed, but committee chair, Milwaukee Democrat Tim Carpenter, secured approval for an exemption until January 1st 2010, two years beyond the date all other businesses would have to comply. "Because of the strong concern of the Tavern League . . . it gives them two years to start moving," said Carpenter . The bill cleared the committee on 3-2 vote, with Carpenter joined by Milwaukee Democrat Spencer Coggs and Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles. Kreitlow and Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz voted no.