Jul 9, 2009
MLBA rewards Sanborn for betrayal
It’s hard to find the proper words to describe my reaction when I opened the latest edition of The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) monthly trade magazine and read that rightwing Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond, was named The MLBA’s 2009 Legislator of the Year. A few words that came to mind immediately were disgust, shock, betrayal, double cross and payback to name just a few.
The MLBA has been a harsh critic of the workplace smoking ban; going to the point of using debunked studies and ones financed by the tobacco industry to make the false claim that the ban will cost jobs. That is simply not true, and reliable, independent studies from the data from the 37 other states and entire countries that already have the ban debunked their lie.
But, according to the article, Lance Binoniemi, executive director, of the MLBA, said “He is also a strong advocate against the proposed smoking ban which the MLBA is currently fighting.” The word I think of here is payback.
On the smoking ban, Sanborn is quoted as saying; “This is an example of government telling business what to do. As part of the free market system, people can choose whether to go where smoking is permitted or to a non-smoking hospitality business.”
Someone should ask Sanborn does that mean the employees who really need the job can go elsewhere, too. The fact is, government tells businesses what do all the time, and it's actually their job to do so. It is about the state protecting the public's health just as it does with regulations about how restaurants store, handle and prepare food. We don't leave it up to businesses to decide if they will require their employees to wash their hands before preparing customers food, what temperatures they should maintain their food at, or what procedures should be taken when handling food. We require certain regulations be followed to protect the health of the public. It is no different with secondhand smoke.
If Sanborn doesn’t like the workplace smoking ban, then he should vote against the bill – like he did – and live with how the majority of Senators voted. He didn’t do that.
You will recall that last year both the House and the Senate approved a workplace smoking ban, but each body passed a different version. That happens all the time in the Legislature, and what happens is the leader of each body appoints three people from each body to a conference committee, and the six-person committee then meets to iron out a compromise to present that compromise to their full body for an up or down vote.
In other words, the majority is telling you to find a way to get done what the majority wants. The problem is Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop is against the ban, and instead of doing what the majority wants, he sabotaged the process. He assigned two staunch opponents to the committee: Sanborn and Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt.
We should have know what the result would be when we saw who Bishop assigned, and the conference committee never even came up with a compromise to present to the full Legislature. That’s because they did not bargain in good faith, and the bill died despite the majority voting for it.
Cropsey admitted four months later that he refused to negotiate or bargain, and we just saw Sanborn’s payoff. It would be interesting to see how much cash Cropsey, Sanborn and Bishop got from the MLBA PAC.