Thursday, February 15, 2007

Del. David Albo: Keeping Virginia's Indoor Air Polluted

From the Roanoke Times (bolding added by me) ...

RICHMOND -- An attempt to ban smoking in Virginia's public places, including restaurants and bars, appears to be dead for the year.
A House subcommittee declined to take action Thursday on the Virginia Smoke Free Air Act (Senate Bill 1161), leaving the measure technically alive but with its future in doubt.

The subcommittee's intent was to give SB 1161's sponsor, Sen. Brandon Bell, R-Roanoke County, time to work out a compromise with Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, who sponsored a different smoking bill approved by the subcommittee last month.

Del. Dave Albo, R-Fairfax County, said he wants to see Bell and Griffith work together to produce "something that everyone hates a little."

But Bell said afterward that with just a little more than two weeks left in the General Assembly session and the two bills "at opposite ends of the spectrum," an agreement is unlikely.

"The timing of things will be difficult as far as what we come up with and what kind of approach we want to take," Bell said. "We may not be able to get there this year."

Griffith, the House majority leader, has generally opposed a broad ban on indoor smoking, and told the General Laws Committee he'd strike his bill if the Senate attempts to make it more restrictive.

He said Thursday he was willing to talk with Bell, but added the committee will have the last word.

"I don't have a problem with working out a compromise," Griffith said. "That being said, the committee's not going to let a whole lot more than my bill go out. ... Just because Brandon and I agree doesn't mean the committee will let it out."
Griffith's "different smoking bill" as the reporter so opaquely put it would eliminate the requirement that restaurants have nonsmoking sections. It is as close to the opposite of a smoking ban as you can get without putting packs of cigarettes on the table next to the salt & pepper shakers.

Let's review:
* Del. Albo tells the smoking ban supporter he'll have to compromise
* Del. Griffith simultaneously tells reporters if he has to compromise, he'll take his ball and go home
* Even if a compromise is struck, the House subcommittee has no intention of letting any compromise move forward.

Was Del. Albo ignorant of Griffith's intentions? Or disingenuously trying to take credit for being a united not a divider while privately knowing no possibility of compromise existed? Either way, not a proud day for Fairfax.

I can understand opposition to a smoking ban from a delegate representing a place that shares a name with a brand of cigarettes. But Del. Albo? From Fairfax? Come on. Fairfax residents should be ashamed. I thought you guys were more moderate than that.

By the way, this is the same Del. Griffith who also said this yesterday regarding similarly stalled transportation legislation:

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, also a conferee, said that he and his colleagues would insist on a "true compromise - and not the kind of compromise you make with your wife."
Virgina's General Assembly has already done racism and antisemitism, so now we're bringing sexism back! Justin Timberlake would be proud. Just one more way they're moving Virginia backward.
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