The Minnesota House of Representatives today passed a statewide smoking ban, including in bars and restaurants (see MPR). The Minnesota Senate passed its own version last month; the two will now have to be reconciled. (The primary difference is that the House version allows for a ventilated smoking room but the Senate allows for a smoking patio. In both cases, local governments would have to grant a license, and in both cases, employees are not allowed to serve in those areas.) Though Democrats tended to favor the ban and Republicans opposed it, there was more division between less-populated areas opposing and populated areas supporting. Governor Pawlenty (R) has indicated he will sign the bill.
I’m quite pleased to say that my representative (Tina Liebling, D) and senator (Ann Lynch, D), both of whom I voted for in the last election, both voted for these bills. In fact, Representative Liebling was a co-author on the House version. My county, Olmsted County, passed a smoking ban earlier this year. Assuming this passes, Minnesota will be the nineteenth state prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants.