Gov. Rendell, speaking to reporters in Harrisburg this morning, vowed to veto legislation for a statewide indoor smoking ban if it weakens a law already enforced in Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter, while a member of City Council, championed the city's indoor smoking ban, which was signed into law in September 2006 and went into effect in January 2007.
State Sen. Vince Fumo today issued a press release criticizing the proposed legislation for a statewide smoking ban now being considered in Harrisburg. Fumo quoted extensively from a "confidential draft" of the legislation, drawn up by a conference committee of three state senators and three state representatives. That legislation would override the city's smoking ban in facilities for long-term health care, residential adult care, mental health, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, Fumo said. It would also allow smoking in designated areas for sports arenas, performance venues and casinos.
"It would be a step backward for the city," Fumo said. "Philadelphia has a strong ordinance that should be the model for the rest of the state, rather than Harrisburg dictating to Philadelphia on a matter on which the city has been more proactive."
UPDATE: Mayor Nutter told PhillyClout a little while ago that he was closely following developments in Harrisburg on a statewide smoking ban. Nutter said a statewide ban should not come at the expense of the city's smoking ban, which he called one of the best in the country. "Our primary focus is preserving what we have here in Philadelphia, both from a standards standpoint... and as well as the ability of the city to legislate in this particular area." The General Assembly's conference committee is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. today to discuss the issue.
2nd UPDATE: The Associated Press reported just after 5 p.m. that the six members of the General Assembly conference committee did not vote on the proposed legislation this afternoon because of Rendell's veto threat. They will now rework the legislation and take another shot at a vote, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.