Two rookie legislators have been named to lead a 10-member panel that’ll try to come up with some kind of a statewide smoking ban that can pass both the House and Senate. Representative Tyler Olson, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who was elected to the House in 2006, says he’s optimistic. "This has turned into one of the big issues of the session, easily getting the most constituent contact on this so we’re committed to getting something done," Olson says.
The House has voted to grant casinos, bars and some restaurants a pass on going smoke-free, while the Senate has voted to ban smoking in nearly all public places, including casinos, bars and restaurants. "The House has twice now voted for a bill. The Senate has twice voted for a bill so obviously there’s a strong majority in each chamber that wants to get something done," Olson says.
Senator Staci Appel, a Democrat from Ackworth who was elected to the Senate in 2006, is the other co-chair of the committee that’ll tackle the issue. Other members of the panel are Representatives Janet Peterson, a Democrat from Des Moines; Mike Reasoner, a Democrat from Creston; Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mt. Ayr and Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars as well as Senators Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City; Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo; Ron Wieck, a Republican from Sioux City; and Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville.
Finding agreement among that bunch will be difficult. Four of the ten advocate a strict ban on smoking in all public places while at least two support an exemption for bars and restaurants that agree to keep kids under the age of 21 out during smoking hours. The rest are opposed to any new state restrictions on smokers.