May 15, 2009
Workplace smoking ban expected to be voted out of committee
LANSING – Behind the senses maneuvering has led to the workplace smoking ban moving forward again in the Michigan Legislature.
The House Regulatory Reform Committee will take up House Bill 4377 at its next meeting on Wednesday May 20. The bill ban smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, but it would provide exceptions for so-called cigar bars, tobacco specialty retail stores and casinos.
The ban, which has overwhelming support from both residents and lawmakers, has had numerous starts and stops since the legislative session began in January. The committee held hearings on the ban for four straight weeks in March with a plan to vote out a bill in April, but in early April, House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said the workplace smoking ban will be shelved this spring to concentrate on the budget.
An apparent reversal put the bill back on the agenda, but Committee Chair Bert Jobson, D-Detroit, tabled a vote at the last minute, saying he wanted to work out a compromise between Dillon and Bishop. Last year, the House passed a ban that had exceptions for casinos, and the Senate passed a ban with no exceptions.
The bill was killed in the conference committee called to work out the differences. The rumor in Lansing is that the leaders want to deal and get the bill to the conference committee as soon as possible. Obviously, the calls and letters from supporters turned the tide again.
The Committee will meet at noon at Wednesday in Room 326 in the House Office Building, 124. N. Capitol. The meeting is open to the public, and HB 4377 is just one of six bills the committee is considering.