Capitol Notes: Resolutions on smoking and diet
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Welcome to Capitol Notes, a bite-sized assortment of lighter items happening under the green dome of your state Capitol here in the Burg founded by John Harris.
UP IN SMOKE
As part of his plan for a healthier Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell is asking the Legislature to renew efforts to pass a statewide smoking ban for workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
If discussions go the way of Chicago's, the ban might not stick during periods of athletic angst -- such as Steelermania during the crazy days leading up to last year's Super Bowl.
With the Bears vying for a spot in this year's Super Bowl, the Chicago area is considering temporarily lifting its smoking bans, which were enacted just two weeks ago.
The discussions are in response to complaints from bar and restaurant owners that they would lose business during the NFL playoffs, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.
Maybe that's how Smokey the Bear got his name.
SPEAKING OF SMOKING ...
State Rep. Peter Daley, D-Washington, better fasten his seat belt. He'll probably get a bumpy reception from smokers.
He says he'll introduce a bill to make it illegal for a person to smoke in a vehicle when a younger child is a passenger.
"I am alarmed when I see someone smoking in their car while there is a child present,'' he said. "Too many children are involuntarily exposed to secondhand smoke and the health effects are serious.''
Under his bill, a violation would occur if smoking takes place in a vehicle transporting children who are in child safety seats. Pennsylvania requires a child to be buckled in a car seat until they are 80 pounds or 8 years old. Penalties would be a $100 fine on a first offense and at least a $250 fine for subsequent offenses.
AND HERE'S MORE NEWS ABOUT GOOD HEALTH
"Please don't make this the focus of your stories,'' Mr. Rendell asked reporters on Wednesday, as he outlined his massive new Prescription for Pennsylvania, aimed at controlling health care costs.
Reporters complied, but it was hard. As part of his efforts to improve the state's health, the weight-challenged Mr. Rendell said people need to eat better and control their girth. He is especially concerned about overweight youngsters.
Mr. Rendell, who weighed in at a hefty 262 pounds during a physical exam last summer, pledged "to lose 25 pounds this year.'' Additionally, he challenged young people "to match me,'' meaning to lose a percentage of their body weight equal or better than what he plans to do.
MAKING CANCER VACCINE AVAILABLE
Insurers soon could be required to provide coverage for a newly approved vaccine that prevents human papilloma virus infections, which cause cervical cancer.
The Federal Drug Administration approved the vaccine in 2006.
"The cost of the vaccine would be much less for insurance companies than treating cancer later on," said state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, who is proposing the measure. "We don't have a cure for cancer but, for this type, we do have a vaccine that is rated highly effective. Covering this vaccine just makes sense."
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the vaccine for girls ages 11 to 12, although it can be given as early as age 9 or as late as 26.
INSPIRED BY SAPPHIRES
Most women choose jewelry to match their clothing, but that's not how First Lady Marjorie O. Rendell dresses.
The navy, off-the-shoulder gown she wore to the inaugural ball Tuesday was designed to complement a diamond-and-sapphire necklace, a gift from the governor.
It was designed by Philadelphian Paula Hian, the daughter of a fashion photographer and a classical musician.
Mrs. Rendell's jewels weren't all that sparkled Tuesday night. The First Lady stole the show at the pre-ball concert, when she took the stage to sing with rock icon Jon Bon Jovi.
Their rendition of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," brought the crowd to its feet.
Even Frankie Avalon, who also performed at the event, didn't draw a standing O.
State Rep. Ron Buxton, D-Harrisburg, wants to move the 2008 Pennsylvania primary to an earlier date than it's been in the past. He's seeking March 4, instead of the usual late April primary.
He thinks an earlier primary "would significantly increase Pennsylvania's impact on the outcome of the next presidential primary election.''
Mr. Rendell has talked in the past about moving the primary to an earlier date but nothing has happened so far. Holding the primary in late April, some critics say, gives Pennsylvania no influence over who are the candidates because they are generally picked in primaries or political caucuses held in other states in January, February and March.
First Published January 19, 2007 12:00 am