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Senate Democrats Support Anti-Smoking Bill

By Associated Press

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Senate's Democratic Caucus endorsed legislation Wednesday to ban smoking in the workplace and in public places.

The no smoking bill sponsored by state Senator Vivian Davis Figures was one of several health and safety bills the caucus supported during a news conference at the Statehouse.

Figures has been trying for three years to ban smoking in workplaces and in public places, including restaurants, shopping malls, and theaters. Her bill would also ban smoking with 15 feet to the entrance of any place where smoking is prohibited.

Businesses that violated the proposed ban would be subject to fines, beginning at $100 for a first offense.

Senate President Pro Tem Hinton Mitchem says Figures has worked to change public sentiment about smoking. Figures says it's clear that Alabamians want a smoke-free state.

The Senate Education Committee, which Figures heads, has a public hearing scheduled on her bill at 1 p.m. on February 27 at the Statehouse.

During the news conference, the Senate Democratic Caucus announced that during the current legislative session, it will oppose any budget cut or any freeze in enrollment for the ALL Kids health insurance program. The program serves the children of working poor families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The caucus said it will try to double the minimum sentence for drunken drivers with high levels of intoxication. The caucus also said it will try to ban freed sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of an Alabama college or university. State law already prohibits them from living near K-12 schools, but higher education is not addressed.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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