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Sunday Spin2: Detours on the budget debate

Friday’s four-hour budget debate in the Senate was mostly about programs that get cut or taxes that don’t get raised. But there were brief detours into other topics, including cigar lounges and Spokane Indians baseball. . .

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. . . An amendment to the budget tried to set up an appropriation of an extra $3.7 million for tobacco prevention programs, contingent on other legislation passing that allows for the establishment of cigar lounges, which would pay special taxes and fees.

If the lounge legislation doesn’t pass, the money wouldn’t be generated or spent.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, likened the ban on allowing adults to smoke cigars in special facilities to Prohibition. “This is still America, not a nanny state,” Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the comparison between alcohol and tobacco doesn’t really work because the concern is for people who would work in the smoke-filled lounges; serving alcohol won’t kill the person handing out the drink, he said, “otherwise this body would be pretty empty tonight.”

Opponents of smoking, of which there are many in the Legislature, stubbed out  the idea on a voice vote.

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane,  managed to get in a plug for the city's single A team, of which he is part owner, in support of more money for teacher and principal evaluations. Coaches for the Indians do that in practice and games, and that’s how players get better and may someday wind up in the major leagues, he said.

The amendment to add the money failed 23-25. One can only hope the Indians fare better this summer.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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