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WV House panel nixes smoking ban repeal bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With Republicans joining Democrats, state lawmakers killed the first of a series of expected bills that aim to repeal and weaken smoking bans across West Virginia.

By a 12-10 vote, members of the House Government Organization Committee rejected gambling industry-backed legislation (HB 4472) that would have allowed county commissions to overrule local health boards and revoke health regulations, including those that ban smoking at bars, restaurants, gambling parlors and casinos.

“This bill is not necessary,” said Delegate Chris Stansbury, R-Kanawha. “Boards of health do a good job. Certain things should be left to the experts. We don’t need to meddle in those decisions in the interest of propping up certain businesses.”

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, said county health boards could decline to re-appoint health board members if they pass measures that commissioners oppose.

“We’re trying to inject politics in public health issues…

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