Jun 30, 2009
Legislature breaks without addressing public health issue that kills and sickens thousands
LANSING – With the Legislature on a two-week summer break, it seems fitting to look at what did not get done during the marathon session last Thursday that ran to 1 a.m. Friday morning in the Senate.
Although there was a solution out there, 100 Michigan State Troopers will still lose their jobs this week. The House passed a supplemental bill using some restricted funds to save the jobs, but the Senate never took it up. Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, the chair of the MSP Appropriations Sub-Committee, said he had a way to save the jobs.
But my pet peeve and that of thousands of other Michigan residents is the Senate’s failure to take up the workplace smoking ban. The House passed House Bill 4377 in May with bipartisan support, but the Republican controlled Senate refuses to take it up, despite some 70 percent of Michigan residents supporting it.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, does not support a ban, and he has said he will not consider a ban that has exceptions like HB 4377 does. No problem; then take up Senate Bill 114 that has no exceptions so or an amended version of HB 4377 so it can get in a conference committee with time to spare instead of at the last minute like last year.
Here are some important bills they passed that night instead of taking up the workplace smoking ban. HB 4897, a bill to create an exception to a requirement that a hunter wear hunter orange; SB 470, a bill to require a retailer selling beer kegs to attach an ID tag to it; and SB 483, a bill to specify that a person accompanying a licensed hunter on a bear or bobcat hunt does not have to be licensed, as long as he or she does not carry a weapon or own or possess dogs used during the hunt.
Now, these bills are important to someone in Michigan, but nothing personally touches people like deadly secondhand smoke, costs taxpayers more money and has more support than a workplace smoking ban.
Why is the Senate sitting on this important public health issue?