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Still no decisions on Indiana smoking, police-entry bills

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Legislators finished work Wednesday without an agreement yet on just how comprehensive a statewide smoking ban they might adopt and without the support of a major police group for a proposal laying out when residents might be legally justified in using force against police officers.

Both issues are in the hands of House and Senate negotiators trying to reach compromise versions for lawmakers to vote on ahead of Friday's planned adjournment of this year's legislative session.

Sponsors of the smoking ban bill said they were still pushing to have bars included in the ban even though a draft compromise circulating among lawmakers Wednesday would exempt bars.

That is one of the major sticking points. The House approved a ban on smoking in most public places that gave an 18-month exemption to bars, while the Senate passed a watered-down version last week that gave bars a complete exemption.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary, a sponsor of the bill, said he hadn't decided whether having the bar exemption in the bill would cause him to not agree with a compromise version.

"That is what backs me up several feet," Brown said. "I don't know whether I can sign it with all those bars in there."

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long has said the exemption for bars was necessary to get support from lawmakers such as himself, who had opposed previous attempts to ban smoking.

The House-passed bill also exempted casinos, private clubs and tobacco and cigar stores. The Senate also added new carve-outs for assorted businesses such as veterans homes and nursing homes and included a provision prohibiting cities and counties from adopting new tougher local restrictions.

Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, said she didn't yet know how many of those Senate-added changes needed to stay in the bill, which senators approved on a 29-21 vote.

"I think we saw last week on the floor how tough it's going to be," Gard said.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday he wanted as few exemptions as possible but would accept a weakened version if that's what it takes to get some sort of smoke-free measure approved during his final year in office.

Bill sponsor Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said he was holding out for including bars in the ban and believed the governor's support was helping chances of getting a ban approved.

"He and I are on the same page: We want the minimum number of exemptions and to maximize the number of locations that are smoke free," Turner said. "I'm going to work to the very end to try to get that."

Negotiators are also working on a bill written in response to the public uproar over a state Supreme Court ruling last year that residents couldn't resist officers even during an illegal entry. It is apparent the legislators are going to end their session without consensus from law enforcement groups on the measure.

Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police attorney Leo Blackwell told a House-Senate conference committee that the group worries the proposal will give people improper justification for attacking officers.

Negotiators are trying to reach a compromise on the measure that specifies people are protected by the state's self-defense law if they reasonably believe force is necessary to protect themselves from unlawful actions by an officer. It also states that a person who is committing a crime is not justified in using any force against a police officer.

Supporters say the proposal strengthens the legal rights of people against government agents improperly entering their homes while also making it more difficult for anyone to argue they were acting in self-defense in using deadly force against an officer.

Blackwell said the FOP believed the Supreme Court decision gave the best protection for police officers and that the Legislature's proposal wouldn't help officers trying to protect the public.

"I do not agree that on the doorstep it affords any more protection for police officers," Blackwell said. "In fact it makes their job more dangerous."

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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