FRANKFORT—Tobacco companies have spent nearly $70,000 in the first month of the 2014 General Assembly, according to lobbying data from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission
And the sponsor of a bill that would ban smoking statewide in Kentucky public places and some private businesses thinks that that money is working to keep her bill in limbo.
Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat, is the sponsor of the statewide smoking ban bill, which has languished on the House floor for over three weeks. She says that tobacco lobbyists routinely influence rural legislators and leadership from both parties to avoid tackling the issue.
Westrom says she has enough votes for the bill’s passage, but has been told by Democratic leadership that her count differs from theirs. She says they claim there’s insufficient support for the measure.
“Our leadership won’t let it,” she says. “They count their votes. And I count the votes. And we get different numbers.”
Tobacco conglomerate Altria reported the second-highest lobbying expenditures in the first month of the General Assembly, at over $30,000.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has denied any personal knowledge of tobacco lobbying in the Capitol over Westrom’s bill.