By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
It's been all talk and no resolution for three months.
And on Tuesday, the Killeen smoking ban committee called it quits after months of filtering the heated exchanges from various sides of the issue.
The committee agreed to delay any recommendations to the City Council in light of the growing support for a statewide smoking ban currently proposed in the state Legislature.
But before they let it burn out, the City Council will discuss the issue in a workshop session next week. The majority of the council members indicated they favored waiting as well, since the legislative session ends in May.
If the state does not pass the bill, the committee members agreed that they would consider relighting the debate after 90 days.
Committee Chairman and Councilman Billy Workman said the committee should act and criticized the other members for allowing political motives to guide their indecision.
"I think we should move on it, and I think that we should look at the health and welfare of the citizens," Workman said. "Let's take it to the council and see what they say."
A statewide smoking ban is currently gaining momentum in the Texas Legislature. In 2007, a similar version cleared the House before dying out in the Senate.
But this one is different, said District 55 state Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, who is co-authoring the bill in his first session.
The proposal by the state allows the council to just wait for the Legislature to act, something that has already been considered and suggested by several people at committee meetings prior to Tuesday.
"I think we should defer to the state for the next 90 to 120 days and pass the buck to them," Councilman Kenny Wells said. "I feel bad about exempting just bingo halls. I think bowling alleys and bars deserve the same. I think we should start complying with the current ordinance. It is the law right now, and I suggest that we prepare for a statewide smoking ban."
Councilman Juan Rivera said it makes no sense to rush a decision on this.
"I concur with Mr. Wells. This is not about the boys and girls club anymore. I would not vote to exempt the bingo hall without exempting the additional bars as well. I'm not about to support one organization over another. They should be the same across the board," Rivera said. "I believe we should take action, but at the same time, we have to look at what's going on around us."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568.