The air in Georgia may finally be getting cleaner soon.
The state is following a very progressive path on its way to becoming one of the few in the nation to have a clean air ordinance prohibiting smoking in public venues.
Senate Bill 90 passed the House of Representatives Tuesday, but with several amendments attached that watered down the initial act. If the reworked version passes the Senate by the end of the session, then Georgia will join Florida, California, New York and a handful of other states with smokefree air legislation.
The bill prohibits smoking in restaurants, unless there is a private enclosed meeting room, prohibits smoking in businesses with more than 10 employees, and allows smoking in bars and restaurants in which patrons are 18 and older.
The local delegation, Rep. Ron Borders, Rep. Jay Shaw and Rep. Ellis Black, deserve accolades for voting yes on the bill. From our region, only Rep. Penny Houston voted against the measure.
Although the bill is a weaker version of the ordinance passed by the City of Valdosta last year, this is still a step in the right direction and thankfully, will not negate the city's version. Municipalities can pass stricter measures than the state, but cannot pass weaker versions, so the city's ordinance is safe.
Lowndes County has been waiting to see what the state would do, and if this passes the Senate, we urge the Commission to adopt the ordinance quickly.
We also urge the Senate to adopt the bill, even in its amended form, as time is running out in this year's legislative session. A weak version is better than no version at all. We're counting on Sen. Tim Golden, who voted for its passage previously, to support the legislation and assist in seeing it passed this year.
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