SALT LAKE CITY — The entire Capitol complex, both inside and out, may soon be smoke free.
The House Government Operations Committee on Friday advanced a bill that would ban smoking and tobacco products at the complex, except for small smoking areas designated by the Capitol Preservation Board.
Smoking has been illegal indoors and within 25 feet of entrances since the Legislature passed the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act in 1994.
The sponsor of HB155, Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray, said the action is symbolic.
"If we do this, we’ll send a signal to the state of Utah,” Cutler said.
The penalty is the same as the Indoor Clean Air Act, he said. A first violation can result in a fine of up to $100, and the second up to $500. But police officers wouldn't begin issuing citations until July 2019.
Most of the public testimony Friday was in favor of the bill. However, there was one dissenting voice from Gala Dumas, who says she has worked at the Capitol for 22 years.
“This bill will affect me because I am a smoker,” Dumas said.
She said "a little piece of (her) heart sunk" when she read about the bill. She compared it to the state coming into her house and telling her what she can and cannot do.
"This is the people's house," she said.
Dumas asked the committee not to rush the bill through just to be the fourth state in the country to pass such legislation.
The committee revised the legislation after Dumas' comments to provide for more than one smoking area. Then they advanced the bill to the Senate floor with a 7-1 vote, with Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, casting the dissenting vote.