May 27, 2009

Smoking ban passes House with bipartisan support but exceptions may kill it

LANSING – The workplace smoking ban passed in the House Tuesday with bipartisan support, but the exceptions in the bill will just give Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, an excuse to kill a bill he doesn’t support but 70 percent of Michigan residents do support.

After holding a caucus most of the afternoon on Tuesday, the House leadership allowed a vote on House Bill 4377 that bans smoking in casinos and so-called cigar bars. The bill passed by a vote of 73-31 vote.

In a true bipartisan vote, 17 Republicans voted for the bill, and seven misguided Democrats voted no. There were 12 amendments submitted to the bill, including some silly ones, like exceptions for race tracks and making a smoke filled place in a bar that employees would allegedly not have to enter. Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, and Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, offered amendments for a total ban, but House leadership refused to even allow a vote on those amendments.

This is the same scenario that developed last session when the House passed a version with exceptions and the Senate passed a version with no exceptions, and Bishop assigned two members to the conference committee to work out a compromise between the two versions who refused to negotiate, killing the ban But the overwhelming number of supporters of the ban are looking on the bright side and hoping this will get the ball rolling. The bill got 17 more votes this time than when the bill passed by a vote of 56-46 in December 2007.

The real indication of how serious Bishop is may be what committee the bill is referred to. Last session it was buried in the committee he chairs that never meets, the Committee on Government Operations and Reform. The common sense place is the Health policy Committee, but the chair of that committee, a medical doctor, favors the ban. But there is indication he may actually try to reach a deal.

It was telling than Bishop’s mouthpiece Matt Marsden was quoted as saying “the Senate will set the agenda on when to act on the matter and not be pressured by any group on a different time frame for action.” Bishop’s office has been flooded by supporters of the bill, and that was the only reason he even allowed a vote last year, not expecting it would pass.

The opponents of the ban put out their usual false talking points when hearing news of the bill’s passage. Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, put out his usual debunked, false talking point about how it will cost jobs.

"I challenge lawmakers to explain to the thousands of workers they just turned their backs on, why their jobs aren't worth protecting," he said "It's a sad day for Michigan when Las Vegas-based casinos are worth protecting and Michigan's mom and pop businesses are penalized.”

I challenge Binoniemi, again, to explain how just 20 percent of the population can have so much effect on the economy, and why the 37 other states that have a smoking ban are not experiencing job loess. He is silent. It seems he is more interested in selling cigarettes than booze.


kevins said...

I don't challenge you on the job loss arguments. I don't know if you are right or wrong, but I'll accept your position.

But for all his faults, Binoniemi has a point. The "misguided" Democrats, as you call them, apparently feel more loyalty to Las Vegas-based casinos than to Michigan employees.

Right or wrong, those lawmakers feel the ban will harm casino jobs.
So, the only logical conclusion is either: a) they don't mind that casino workers and customers die from second-hand smoke, or b) they don't believe the health threat.

Because let's say they aren't misguided. Let's say the casinos will lose business. They are basically saying that the casino profits are more important and employee rights.

You like to hammer the Republicans, such as Bishop, but it is the Democrats who are stopping the ban. You said yourself that House leadership wouldn't allow a vote. That would be the House Democratic leadership, unless Dillion is impotent. Bishop may be bluffing, but the best way to call that bluff is to pass a total ban in the House.

But that isn't happening because your "misguided" Dems don't care about employee health.

Communications guru said...

Don’t accept my position on job losses; read it for yourself. Here’s the link:
Check the results of the 37 other states that have gone smoke free, or entire countries, like Ireland, Italy, Scotland, England, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.

No, Binoniemi is wrong, as well as the Democrats and Republicans who voted against it. I have had this argument so many times here before. Detroit area lawmakers are under the same mistaken belief it will cost jobs. They are wrong, and a little research will prove that. Binoniemi is worse because he is using debunked information to try and persuade these lawmakers it will cost jobs.

You have to use a lot of twisted logic to reach these conclusions. Once again, they are under the mistaken belief it will cost jobs; jobs Detroiters need desperately.

Yes, I do like to hammer the Republicans, especially in this case. It’s not a hard thing to do because they give me so many opportunities. No, it’s not the Democrats who are stopping a ban. They held hearings on the bill, both in this session and last. They allowed a vote this session, and last session they allowed a vote on both a ban with exceptions and a ban without exceptions. That’s two separate votes. Bishop has allowed one vote on one version and zero committee hearings.

Then, the Democrats assigned two of the three members to the conference committee who voted for the ban and all who were willing to work out a compromise. Bishop assigned two who voted against it, and absolutely refused to compromise.

Can’t you read? The House Democratic leadership just allowed another vote yesterday. It has been Bishop all along who has stalled at every opportunity. Let him allow a vote on House Bill 4177 or even Senate Bill 114 that calls for a total ban. Either way, get it in conference committee before the midnight deadline like he did last year.

The fact is I can accept the bill with exceptions, and as soon as we get the same results as the 37 other states then there will be no reason for a ban with exceptions. All or nothing helps no one.