The West Virginia Senate voted on Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 109, which would allow certain establishments to become exempt from indoor smoking bans if they obtain permission from their country commission.
The bill passed 22-12 led by Senator Craig Blair, a Republican from Berkeley who swayed the chamber’s opinion when he pointed out that several members of the Senate were smokers. The two most outspoken against the proposal were 2 democrats, Mike Woeful and Bob Plymale.
The bill didn’t follow the usual path for smoking legislation in the state as it went through the military committee instead of the health committee.
The bill offers exemptions to veterans’ organizations, racetracks, casinos, adults-only facilities and fraternal societies. According to the bill to qualify for the exemption an establishment must have a ventilation system in place that exchanges air at least six times per hour or 12 times per hour if there are food sales.
The final ruling on an exemption lays in the hands of the county commission.
The bill still needs to clear the House of Delegates before winding up on the Governor’s desk.
West Virgina is still home to 1.8 million residents over 24,230 square miles and became a state in 1863.