- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2007

RICHMOND — A bill affecting smoking in bars and restaurants was among measures that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine vetoed yesterday after legislators rejected his amendments to them last week.

The veto keeps in force the mandate for restaurants to maintain separate, nonsmoking areas.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, had amended a House bill into a ban on smoking in any establishments that serve food.

The House last week rejected the amendment. Without Mr. Kaine’s changes, the bill would have ended the requirement that restaurants reserve nonsmoking areas as long as they post signs at their entrances warning patrons that they allow smoking.

Mr. Kaine’s changes would have been the most dramatic curbs on tobacco in Virginia, where frescoes of the leaf form garlands that adorn the ceiling of the Capitol rotunda.

“I am not willing to sign legislation that would eliminate the current requirement for a nonsmoking section in restaurants,” Mr. Kaine said.

He said he is asking the state health commissioner to develop legislation for the 2008 General Assembly that would curb smoking in restaurants.

Anti-tobacco legislation historically has had difficulty in Virginia, home to an influential tobacco lobby and the world’s largest Philip Morris cigarette factory.

Under the state constitution, legislators return six weeks after their regular session ends to deal with gubernatorial vetoes and amendments. When amendments are rejected, a governor has 30 days after a reconvened session to kill the bill with a veto, sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature.

Mr. Kaine said last week after his smoking-ban amendment was rejected that he would veto the bill.

Other vetoed bills were:

n A measure to provide funding for projects in Richmond and Lynchburg to prevent untreated human waste from being washed into the James River after heavy rains. Mr. Kaine had amended the bill to establish funding for the expensive projects even in years when there is no direct appropriation from the General Assembly.

Without the amendment, Mr. Kaine said, farmers attempting to cut down on soil, pesticide and fertilizer runoff into tributaries could have been harmed. He said he would include money in next year’s budget to continue the Lynchburg and Richmond projects.

n A bill that would have weakened requirements for local officials to make public potential conflicts of interest concerning land use issues. Mr. Kaine said he tried to toughen the requirements, but his amendment was rejected.

n A bill that would have set up a study of options for treatment of sex offenders. Mr. Kaine said the legislature sought to micromanage areas best left to mental health professionals.

n A measure that would have made it easier to empanel a sentencing jury when the trial jury was unable to agree on a sentence. Mr. Kaine said it’s better to retain existing law that allows for a new sentencing jury only if the prosecutor and defendant agree to it.

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