The debate over a statewide smoking ban will move to a 10-member committee of House and Senate members this week. This so-called "conference committee" will try to hammer out a compromise on the issue as the House has voted to give casino, bar and restaurant owners an out while the Senate has voted to make those establishments smoke-free zones.
Legislative leaders will select the 10 people on that conference committee and House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines says they’re looking for lawmakers who have a history of cooperation rather than confrontation. "This is not a partisan issue," McCarthy says. "It’s very passionate, but not partisan so it’s about, I think, picking the right mix of people."
McCarthy suggests there will have to be a true compromise rather than a "pure" statewide ban on smoking in all public places. "It doesn’t do any good to come out with perfect bill, let’s say, if it gets 49 votes," McCarthy says. Bills must get at least 51 votes to pass the Iowa House. "We’re going to strive to be practically perfect, but we might not be perfect in every way," McCarthy says.
McCarthy doesn’t expect a compromise to emerge this week, but McCarthy and other leaders predict the legislature will address the issue before it adjourns later this spring.