A bill that would exempt vapor products from local regulations while raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21 was pulled from discussion in the Arizona House of Representatives on Monday.
Rep. John Allen, who sponsored the strike-everything amendment to Senate Bill 1147, said he wasn’t expecting his bill to be on the calendar for floor debate on Monday, and he wasn’t “politically” prepared for it to go up for a voice vote by the entire 60-member legislative chamber.
“I tentatively have the votes. I’d like to make sure I have the votes before it goes up,” said Allen, a Phoenix Republican.
The bill will probably be debated on the House floor on Thursday, he said.
Allen, a Phoenix Republican, also said he’s considering tweaking the language of a proposed amendment to the bill.
SB1147 contains a state preemption clause that would bar cities, counties and other government entities from imposing their own regulations on vapor products. The amendment creates a carve-out allowing local governments to continue imposing “reasonable zoning requirements” on where vape stores can locate, which was aimed at alleviating concerns that the preemption clause would allow the shops near schools.
Critics of the bill who oppose the preemption clause argue that the word “reasonable” could effectively allow vaping businesses to challenge any city’s zoning regulations they dislike by arguing the restrictions are unreasonable. Allen and vapor industry groups countered that the word is standard language for zoning-related laws, and that “reasonable” appears hundreds of times in Arizona Revised Statutes.
Nonetheless, Allen said he’s considering making a change, possibly by replacing “reasonable” with “lawful,” though he said he’ll likely keep the amendment’s language as it is.
Opponents of Allen’s bill are supporting House Bill 2357, rival legislation pushed by Sen. Heather Carter that would define vapor products as tobacco products and impose on them the same restrictions that currently apply to tobacco. Carter, a Republican from Cave Creek, questioned whether Allen has enough votes to pass his bill.
Carter wasn’t sure when HB2357 will go up for a vote. She said she needs to talk with Senate President Karen Fann and Senate staff to “figure out a path forward.”