Smoking ban in state casinos materializes again

TOPEKA — A bill to ban smoking on the floor of state-owned casinos is making one final appearance this legislative session.

In the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, stripped an old Senate bill and replaced the language with the smoking ban.

If it passes the full House, the bill could force a floor vote in the Senate, which has declined to act on a casino smoking ban the House passed earlier this year.

Landwehr opposes the Indoor Clean Air Act that passed the Legislature last year and the expanded gambling bill that passed in 2007.

She has complained that the statewide smoking ban has been devastating to small bars that relied on tobacco users for a large percentage of their customers.

Without the votes to move forward on easing the overall smoking ban, she turned her efforts to trying to remove an exemption that allows smoking on casino gaming floors.

Under the state Constitution, the casinos approved for Mulvane, Kansas City, Dodge City and southeastern Kansas must be state-owned and operated.

Landwehr has argued that the ability to allow smoking gives the casinos an unfair business advantage over local bars and clubs.

Putting the language into a Senate bill would allow any senator to make a motion to bring the bill to a floor vote.

"We want to give it one more shot," Landwehr said.

Bill seeks to lure southeast casino

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on Wednesday endorsed a bill aimed at luring a state-owned casino to southeast Kansas and slot machines to race tracks.

The measure now goes to the full Senate for debate.

The bill lessens the financial requirements facing potential track owners and casino developers. Supporters say those requirements would keep the new gambling from being profitable and attracting interest.