Dec 15, 2008

Overwhelming pressure from smoking ban supporters rattles Senate Majority Leader


The pressure from Michigan residents to enact a workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, is getting to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.

Apparently, Bishop got hold of a letter Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, sent to the hundreds of people from all over the state who signed the smokfree dining petition on his web site. The letter informed them of the status of the bill and urged them to contact Bishop and the Republican members of the conference committee to tell them to find a compromise and pass the bill before it dies at the end of the session on Thursday. Word is Bishop is upset over the letter, and he is using the letter to accuse Basham, a member of the conference committee and a strong supporter of the ban, of not bargaining in good faith.

Republicans have floated a ridiculous compromise known as "pay to play" that should be called the more accurate name of "pay to kill." It allows the bar or restaurant owner to purchase a permit and the permit allows the owner to continue to poison his workers and non-smoking patrons.

Part of the letter said, “We must, therefore, make sure the Senate Republican Majority Leader and the Senate Republican Conferees know that a” pay to play" or "license to kill" proposal is absolutely unacceptable. To that end, I strongly urge you to contact their offices immediately with this message.”

The House and Senate both passed different versions of the smoking ban, House Bill 4163. A conference committee consists of three members from each legislative body to work out the differences in the two versions. The committee works out a compromise, and their respective bodies give it an up or down vote, and no amendments or substitutes are allowed. All three Republican members of the committee voted against the bill. How that doesn’t qualify as negotiating in bad faith, only Bishop knows.

Bishop had no intention of even allowing a vote on the bill back in May. He sat on it for five months, and even sent it to the committee he chairs where bills are sent to die. The committee has never met. Only the grassroots effort by supporters of the bill flooding his office with emails and phone calls led him to allow a vote. For him to be upset with a letter urging people to contact his office is ridiculous.

The good news is the conference committee meeting set for 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, is a go. The conference committee meeting is open to the public, and it will be held in Room 424 of the State Capitol in Lansing.

Basham is not the only person supporting the smoking ban and thinks the pay to pay option is ridiculous. Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), issued a press release today urging the legislature to pass the bill and for the committee to reject the so-called “play to pay” option.

“While compromise may be needed, the state Legislature must protect its citizens from second hand smoke," she said. "Michigan needs a strong, firm, concrete law that outright bans smoking in public places. Allowing businesses to buy their way out of the law would be unacceptable and unfair to Michigan residents."

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

You continue to gloss over or ignore the fact the Senate Democrats are also on board with a so-called "pay to kill" plan. They think it is all right for employees to die from second-hand smoke as long as they work in a casino, whose corporate owners pay for the exemption to the smoking ban by donating to the campaigns of Democrats.

The House passed a complete ban on smoking in public places. The Democrat-controlled Senate couldn't accept that because of casino pressure.

The ban was there for the taking...the Dems had the votes, but they wouldn't deliver. So now you keep pushing this ridiculous health issue when -- as the Senate shows -- it's not at all about health. It's about power.

If it was about health, the Senate would have passed the wide-sweeping ban. If you are to believe your arguments, the Dems in the senate believe that casino workers deserve to die from second-hand smoke.

Anonymous said...

Whoops...I got so caught up in the smoke that I screwed up the message.

It was the Republican-controlled Senate that passed the widespread smoking ban. It was the Democrats in the House who buckled under to the casinos.

I completely mixed it up. McBluster will probably blast me for it, but my point is still valid. I just typed too fast and I don't know how to...or even if you can... edit an already posted comment.

Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Here in my area of Chicago, after nearly a year, now that the cold weather is here, the fanfare has worn off and the lobbyists are long gone to other states, many small "mom and pop" bars ignore the ban to keep their customers. There have been no complaints from customers, workers, or neighbors.

Not Anonymous said...

These Democrats want to control businesses with the smoking ban but don't have the guts to make tobacco use illegal. It must not kill to smoke unless it happens only in bars, casino's and restaurants.

Anonymous said...

McBluster keeps trying to deny that the Dems, who suckle up to casino campaign money, are the ones blocking the total ban. He is a liar.

This from today's freep.com, in its entirety:

"A House and Senate conference committee to reach a compromise on a statewide smoking ban has recessed until this afternoon as members wrangle over differences.

"Senate Republicans are pushing for a total smoking ban in public places, without exceptions. House Democrats are seeking a compromise that might allow smoking in Detroit's three casinos.

"Without an agreement this week, the issue will die as the legislature wraps up its 2007-08 session this Thurday."

Note that the Republicans are pushing for the total ban and Democrats want the exceptions for casinos.

In my opinion, the fact is that the Republicans really don't want a ban since they think consumers and restaurant owners can decide for themselves. But they didn't want to get beat up by hypocritical Democrats overplaying the health issue. So they called their bluff and said let's ban it in all public places. And the Democrats caved...since public health was never their interest in the first place.

Communications guru said...

I don't give a dam what the Free Press said, the facts are different. I will say this once again for the 100th time. This is not a partisan issue. That means it's not a Democratic or Republican issue because people from both sides voted for both versions of the bill.

In fact, every single Democrat on the conference committee voted for the total smoking ban, and every single Republican on the conference committee voted against the total ban. You need to check the journal for House Bill 4163. In May when the Senate voted to approve the total ban, Basham voted yes, Cropsey and Sanborn voted no. When the bill was sent to the House, and they finally voted to concur in the Senate substitute, it got a majority – 50 to 49 – but not enough to pass with the needed 56. On that vote, Clack and Meisner voted yes, Hildenbrand voted no.

Once again, the Detroit House members are under the mistaken belief that a ban in the casinos will hurt business and cause a loss in jobs because the Native American casinos are not subject to the ban.

It is completely false and based on nothing but your continued misunderstanding of the issue or a deliberate lie for you to claim "It's the Democrats on the conference committee who are fighting to keep smoking legal in casinos," you anonymous idiot.

Here's the link to HB 4163. I challenge you to prove I'm wrong. Look at roll call 760 in the journal for Sept. 23 and Roll Call 298 on May 8.
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(slegrrjjsh22rz45m12vjw45))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2007-HB-4163

Anonymous said...

"I don't give a damn what the Free Press says...""

Of course, you never give a damn for inconvenient facts.

Lets keep score here.

Those who say that Dems in the House blocked the smoking ban because they caved in to pressure from the Dems include:

The well respected Peter Luke of Booth News (Ann Arbor News, Grand Rapids Press and 6 others);
the generally liberal Lauren Berman of the Detroit News; the generally objective Chris Christoff of the Detroit Free Press.

But McBluster here says they are all wrong and only he is right. Everyone else can see the truth: The Republicans in the Senate called the bluff of the Democrats in the House and the Democrats caved.

No one is saying that the Republicans are really in favor of a ban...but by forcing the issue, they showed that it's not a big issue for the Democrats either.

You are getting crazier all the time, McBluster. Take a smoke break.

Not Anonymous said...

That's an interesting scorecard. But you missed one.

He's saying it's bipartisan, then turns around and says all of the Democrats on the committee are for the ban, but all of the Republicans are against it. Bipartisan when it's convenient for his spin but partisan when it's not.

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, that's his normal MO.

The fact is that Dems had a smoking ban in their hand...and they wanted no part of it. Can't offend the casinos, you know.

Health concerns, my ass.

Communications guru said...

“…the Senate Democrats are also on board with a so-called "pay to kill" plan?” How did you reach that ridiculous conclusion? I “gloss over it” because it’s not true.

I keep refuting your wild, claims, anonymous troll, and in response you ignored that argument, and you make up another claim. Why don’t you understand that Detroit Representatives are under the mistaken and wrong belief that it will lose business to Native American casinos and hence jobs?

I “keep pushing this ridiculous health issue?” That’s the only reason I support it. “It's not at all about health. It's about power? Where do you get this crap? If it passed, who gets or has the power?

“If it was about health, the Senate would have passed the wide-sweeping ban. If you are to believe your arguments, the Dems in the senate believe that casino workers deserve to die from second-hand smoke?

Wow, you are sadly misinformed or stupid.

Communications guru said...

Here in my area of Chicago, after nearly a year, now that the cold weather is here, the fanfare has worn off and the lobbyists are long gone to other states, many small "mom and pop" bars ignore the ban to keep their customers. There have been no complaints from customers, workers, or neighbors.


You’re from Chicago now, anonymous troll? Any thing to back up your ridiculous claims?

Communications guru said...

How does a state legislature make smoking illegal? No wonder you post anonymously. You are an idiot.

Communications guru said...

That is correct, anonymous troll; I don't care what the Free Press says beccause I provided facts and links to back up my position, as usual.

"Those who say that Dems in the House blocked the smoking ban because they caved in to pressure from the Dems include?" I really can't make much of that sentience, troll. Can you clarify what you are trying to say? Second, you really need to stop talking to yourself, and who is this McBluster guy?

Are you serious when you say, "The Republicans in the Senate called the bluff of the Democrats in the House and the Democrats caved. No one is saying that the Republicans are really in favor of a ban...but by forcing the issue, they showed that it's not a big issue for the Democrats either."

Let me see if I got this straight: You are claiming the Senate Republicans voted to protect the public from a deadly and poisonous secondhand smoke only to one-up House Democrats? Are you saying they only cast a vote for "gottcha" politics instead of doing the right thing and voting in what they believed in?

If that is true, it goes a long way in explaining why your party got their sorry ass killed in the past election.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that Democrats think casino jobs are more important that peoples' lives?

Anonymous said...

So the free press is just printing wild lies?

What about Peter Luke of Booth Newspapers (Ann Arbor, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, among others)?

What about the Detroit News?

They are all stupid and liars and only McBluster knows the truth????

The Republicans don't believe that a law is needed to prevent people from partaking in a legal activity in a restaurant where the owner is freely capable of deciding whether smoking should be allowed.

You and your type don't think individuals and businesses should have that right, especially when a Democrat is offended by it.

It's that simple.

You and your party have gone a long ways from the man who said, "The government that governs least, governs best."

Communications guru said...

Once again, you refuse to answer the most basic of questions, so I will ask it again, anonymous troll. What do you call a measure where members of both parties vote for and against a bill? I'll also answer it for you since you are in incapable of that: It's called a bipartisan bill. The only partisanship is being played by the Senate Majority Leader who is doing his best to sabotage a measure he knows people overwhelming support.

Communications guru said...

No.

Communications guru said...

No, I'm not saying the Free Press is just printing wild lies?" I'm saying it's an opinion column.

What about tem? I gave you a link to check out the vote, did you? Who is this McBluster guy, anonymous troll?

If "The Republicans don't believe that a law is needed to prevent people from partaking in a legal activity in a restaurant where the owner is freely capable of deciding whether smoking should be allowed" then why have they voted for it?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the free press article was a news story. The Peter Luke item for Booth and the Laura Berman articles were columns, but within the columns they were reporting facts.

Anonymous said...

McBluster is stopped in his tracks. For once, facts and the truth silenced him. It's a miracle.