If you need any more proof of the dire consequences of newspaper consolidation and downsizing, you just need to read the editorial in the Sunday edition of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
The editorial blasts the Michigan Legislature for daring to consider the “frivolous” workplace-smoking ban instead of addressing the state’s economy. It illustrates a glaring ignorance of how the legislative process works, even the status of the bill and it also ignores the hard work of people who have lobbied for this bill for more than a decade. It also displays ignorance of what power the state, any state, has to lift the nation out of the recession the country has been in since December 2007.
I don’t know if someone on the local editorial board wrote this, or it came from some larger Gannett newspaper - like the Lansing State Journal or the Detroit Free Press - or if it came from company HQ in McLean, Va. Regardless, somebody needs to get a capitol correspondent who understands the process. Perhaps if they do we will not get simplistic and misguided arguments like this:
“What, then, will state legislators be dealing with in Lansing this week as they try to wrap up their work in lame-duck session? Surely, they'll be wrestling with the important issues of the day, how to help those who are hurting, and how generally to get the economy back on track ... Right?”
The House plans to vote this week on whether you should be able to smoke a cigarette while you drink your beer at the local tavern. “
Here’s the thing; the news editor of the P & A should know how Lansing works because for a few years he was the Lansing correspondent for the entire Hometown Newspapers chain when the chain was locally owned, and he knows the Legislature is ran by committees.
Asking 110 House members and 38 Senators to try and negotiate anything is impossible, and that’s why the Legislature is broken down into committees of five to nine people. It’s much easier for that small group to negotiate and then make a recommendation to the full House and Senate to debate and vote on. Could you imagine the din and confusion if 110 people tried to negotiate?
There are 18 standing committees in the Senate and 24 in the House dealing with specific areas, from Agriculture to Transportation, and it’s much easier to work in small groups and present the result to the larger group to vote on. As for the budget, it’s so important that the appropriations committee is broken down into even smaller subcommittees - 16 in the Senate and 19 in the House - that deals with each state department.
What the paper seems to be advocating is that the rest of the Legislators sit by and do nothing. As for addressing the state’s unemployment problems, they have addressed numerous issues. This very newspaper has been filed with stories, photos and editorials on the film being shot at Parker High School, and that was because of the film incentive package approved by the Legislature earlier this year. Senate Democrats have also tried to address home foreclosures, but it has been blocked.
There is only so much a state can do to affect the economy because they cannot effect monetary or trade policy.
Perhaps they are advocating what Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, is doing, saying the Senate will not address any legislation until Gov. Jennifer Granholm issues her budget-cutting Executive Order. The good news is she issued the order on Friday to trim an estimated $240 million from the current budget that will allow Bishop to allow the rest of the elected Senators to do the work we hired them to do
The editorial really shows how clueless the editorial board, or whoever wrote this trash, is. The editorial also claims”
“The House plans to vote this week on whether you should be able to smoke a cigarette while you drink your beer at the local tavern. That's right, the proposal to ban smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants, is expected to come back and take center stage in Lansing. Remember, the big point of debate on this bill was whether the rules should be different somehow if you have a slot machine lever in your hand at the same time you drink a beer and smoke a cigarette.”
Not true. The House has assigned its three members to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate passed version and the House passed version. Once and if a compromise is reached, the compromise gets an up or down vote on the respective floors. The House passed House Bill 4163 in December 2007 that exempts casinos, and the Senate passed a different version in May that had no exceptions to the ban. However, Bishop has not assigned the members of the conference committee. If this goes forward - and if it’s going to be “center stage” it’s news to me - it will only tie down six of the 148 members, and the vote will take but a few minutes.
This bill is a matter of life and death for many people, and those people have been working hard for more than a decade to get this bill passed. So the question to the editor’s ridiculous question: “C'mon. Is that really the most important thing we have to discuss right now?” The answer is hell yes. For them to ridicule such a life and death bill is irresponsible and ignorant at best.
There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. It directly kills more than 3,600 people a year, and it contributes to the deaths of another 50,000 deaths annually.