Dec 11, 2008
Bishop assignees GOP members of conference committee for smoking ban bill who voted against it
It appears the workplace smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants is moving forward after Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, finally named the Senate members of the Conference Committee for House Bill 4163, but his choices for the committee appear to be just giving the measure lip service.
Conference committees consist of three members from each legislative body to work out the differences in the version passed by the House and the one passed by the Senate. The committee works out a compromise, and their respective bodies give it an up or down vote, and no amendments or substitutes are allowed.
The assignment of Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, is obvious because he has been fighting for the ban for more than 10 years, and he sponsored the Senate version, SB 109, as well as the substitute the Senate approved in May of this year by a vote of 25-12. But he assigned two of the most conservative Republican Senators in the Senate to the committee, and they both voted no in May. It makes no sense to assign people who want to see it fail.
Rounding gout the committee are Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, and Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond Township.
The House assigned their conferees on Dec. 4, and they are Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint, - the sponsor of HB 4163 - and House Minority Floor Leader Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. Hildenbrand voted no on the bill in December 2007 when it passed by a vote of 56-46. So among the conferees, the three Democrats voted yes, and the three Republicans voted no. It seems like a recipe for failure, but maybe that is the intention.
You may recall that in December 2007 the House passed a version that excluded casinos, tobacco retailers, bingo halls, horse racing tracks, cigar bars and private residences where a business is run with the owner being the only employee. In May, the Senate passed a substitute introduced by Basham that had no exceptions.
With a maximum of four tentative session days left in the session before all bills die, it will be tough to get this done.
Contact Cropsey at (866) 305-2133 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sanborn at (888) 353-2526 or email at email@example.com to urge them to negotiate in good faith and get his done.