The Norman Transcript

February 25, 2013

Senate Committee approves bill allowing cities and counties to ban smoking on government property

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Senate General Government Committee gave unanimous approval to a measure allowing cities and counties to ban smoking on government property.  Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, is the author of Senate Bill 501, which was approved on Monday — just a week after that same committee voted overwhelmingly against a bill which would have given local government the authority to ban smoking in private businesses as well as government owned properties.

“The big stumbling block there was the concern over the impact the legislation could have had on private businesses,” Simpson said. “Senate Bill 501 will not impact private businesses, but it will give cities and counties local control if they choose to ban smoking on government-owned properties like parks or sports complexes.”

Simpson said the legislation was particularly important in light of a recent Attorney General’s ruling.  A handful of communities in Oklahoma had approved ordinances banning smoking in their city parks, but Attorney General Scott Pruitt said they were in violation of current state law limiting local government control on the use of tobacco.

“This bill would give municipalities and counties the statutory authority to ban smoking in their parks, little league facilities and on other government owned property,” Simpson said. “I’m grateful for the committee’s support on this measure.”

Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, was among those supporting SB 501 on Monday.

“The concern I had about the previous bill was that it could hurt local private businesses, some of which had spent tens of thousands of dollars, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars, to comply with a state smoking law passed just a few years ago,” Johnson said.  “However I fully support enabling our towns and counties to control smoking on government property.”

Simpson said he is optimistic about winning approval for SB 501 when it comes before the full Senate for further consideration.

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