May 18, 2009

Bishop again blocks popular public health measure

The House Regulatory Reform Committee is set to vote out a workplace smoking ban on Wednesday that exempts so-called cigar bars, tobacco specialty retail stores and casinos, but subscription only Gongwer is reporting that once again Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop is blocking any realistic chance of getting any ban in place by refusing to compromise.

According to Gongwer, the only version that would be entertained by Bishop is a ban with no exceptions. Last session the Senate approved a version with no exceptions and the House approved a version with exceptions. The two versions then went to the conference committee, whose sole function is to work out a compromise to present to their respective bodies. But Bishop managed to sabotage something the majority of people want by assigning two people to the conference committee who don’t want the smoking ban and refused to compromise.

Michigan is one of only 13 states with no smoking ban.

If Bishop wants a bill with no exceptions, then act on it and get it to a conference committee that will actually try and work out a compromise. Senate Bill 114 is in the committee he chairs. Why not hold a committee hearing and pass it to the floor, or just discharge it to the floor?

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) is continuing to push the false claim that a workplace smoking ban will hurt business, and they are asking for an “exemption for restaurants and bars that serve alcohol because of the projected loss of business from smokers who would stop patronizing the establishments.”

"In addition to killing jobs, this bill will reduce the state's revenue at a time when there's a $2 billion deficit projected for 2010," said Lance Binoniemi, MLBA executive director, in a press release, according to Gongwer.

There is no study that supports that claim, and, in fact, every study from every state and entire foreign countries that have already enacted a ban shows the exact opposite.

I would like Mr. Binoniemi to explain how less than the 25 percent of people who still smoke can have such an effect on the business of a bar and restaurant.

It seems that the MLBA is more interested in selling cigarettes than anything else.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee will take up the ban at noon Wednesday in Room 326 in the House Office Building, 124. N. Capitol. The meeting is open to the public.

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