Apr 22, 2009
Cropsey admits he sabotaged the workplace smoking ban in the conference committee
LANSING -- Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, admitted on the Senate floor Wednesday that the workplace smoking ban bill died in the conference committee last December because he refused to compromise.
As you recall, the House passed a version in December of 2007 that included exceptions for casinos and others, and the Senate passed a complete ban in May after intense pressure from non-smoking advocates finally forced a vote. A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee was then formed to work out the differences between the two versions, and it presents that compromise to their respective bodies for an up or down vote. A workable compromise was reached in December, but the three Republican members - who voted against the ban - refused to even consider it. Clearly, they had no intention of trying to work out a compromise, and Cropsey confirmed that Wednesday.
“Now when it came to conference committee, the previous speaker was on the committee, I was on the committee, and I took the Senate version and said if we aren’t going to look at the property rights issues, if we are going to look at the public health issue, then let’s do what is right for public health and have the total ban on smoking, “ Cropsey said Wednesday. “You know, I was the only person on that conference committee who held tight to that position—the Senate position.”
In other words, Cropsey, who voted against Senate version he upheld, refused to compromise on a committee whose function it was to reach a compromise. Even though the majority of Michigan residents support a smoking ban, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop doesn’t, and that’s why he appointed two Republican members to the committee who voted against the bill.
The debate was spurred by plans by Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, to introduce a bill to place a smoking ban on the statewide ballot in 2010.
“As you all know, for the past 10 years, the Legislature has tried to pass a smoke-free worksite bill that will protect our citizens against harmful smoking-related diseases and lung cancer. Hunter said. “Unfortunately, these efforts have consistently failed, and due to disagreements regarding exemptions for casinos, bars, or restaurants, Michigan has yet to see a solution to this problem.”
The bill would do away with the requirements for collecting signatures. The cost to do that could be in the millions, and even though the majority of people support the ban, tobacco companies will spend millions to fight it.
“I don’t believe that we should pass watered-down legislation full of concessions that bend and bow to the influence of special interests,” Hunter said. “The only interest that I am concerned about today and as we move forward is that of the citizens we all serve across this great state of Michigan.”
The only problem is Bishop can kill this bill like he did the smoking ban bill. Only the intense pressure from the supporters of the ban forced him to allow a vote last year. In fact, I think it’s that pressure that led Hunter to introduce the bill. However, it will be interesting to see what excuse Bishop comes up with to kill this bill.
Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, a co-sponsor of Hunter’s bill, as well as the smoking ban bill, Senate Bill 114, urged the Senate to hold hearings on both bills.
“For my entire legislative career, I have fought on behalf of a majority of Michigan’s citizens who feel Michigan workplaces should be smokefree, only to have my concerns fall on deaf ears or be drowned out by special interests,” he said. “I had hoped to protect the health of Michigan workers through state legislation, but I am confident that if we let the people of Michigan decide at the ballot box, we can finally move Michigan forward on this issue.”