House leaders say their decision to delay debate on a bill that put a statewide smoking ban in place has more to do with internal discipline than the bill itself. Debate on the issue had been scheduled to begin at one o’clock this afternoon in the Iowa House, but House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines says the bill’s floor manager failed to meet a deadline for filing an amendment seeking changes in the bill.
"When you have a controversial, big bill it’s the duty of the floor manager to make sure that their amendments get filed in a timely fashion…make sure your ducks are in order," McCarthy says. The amendment in question would have sought an exemption from the statewide smoking ban so folks at the Veterans Home in Marshalltown would be able to smoke on the property.
The debate, however, may have been delayed because supporters of the ban had failed to line up the 51 votes necessary to get the bill passed in the House. Governor Chet Culver has said he’d sign a bill that would give cities and counties the authority to enact local anti-smoking ordinances.
"Iowa has historically been a local control state, but maybe as we have this discussion and debate on this issue maybe we will learn that Iowans want to go further than that and that they’re ready for a statewide ban," Culver says. "That is why debate is important up here." Culver’s urging lawmakers to bring up the smoking ban bill and vote on it. House Democratic leaders indicate debate on the issue "could" be happen "early" next week.