It's 11:37am here at the Iowa Statehouse. The smoking debate has just started (again) in the house. A few minutes ago, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stopped by to say he had no idea how this vote would turn out. He said he thought as of earlier this a.m., it may have 50 or 51 votes. Of course, if everyone's here and everybody votes, this needs 51 to make it through. So this could be an interesting vote. The smoking stoop outside may be a crowded one.
Last night, the Conference Committee agreed to ban smoking almost everywhere in public except for on casino gaming floors (if you needed a reminder of just how powerful the casinos are in this state) and in the Iowa Veterans' Home in Marshalltown.
1205pm...The votes are in...finally. 54 yes and 45 no. Republican Linda Upmeyer of Garner said her voting machine didn't work correctly and her vote didn't register. During the voting, for a time, this bill actually failed. At one point, there were 50 no's which would have killed it. But then a few no's disappeared.
By my eye, Helen Miller of Ft. Dodge waited and waited to decide. She finally went with a yes vote. That gave the 51 necessary votes. Then a few others changed their votes from no to yes. Democrats Paul Bell of Newton and Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield both switched to the yes side. A few others must have switched, as well, but I couldn't see who they were.