Michigan Restaurant Association Responds to HB 4163

9 05 2008

To try and stay fair on this issue, I contacted the Michigan Restaurant Association for their opinion on yesterday’s passage of HB 4163.  Vice President of Public Affairs Andy Delony gave me this statement.

The MRA continues to oppose legislation which would take away the ability for restaurant and tavern operators to decide for themselves the kinds of dining environments they may offer to their guests.  We were surprised and disappointed with the activity of the state Senate on Thursday.


Stamp Out Hunger Reminder

9 05 2008

Just a reminder, tomorrow (May 10) is the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.  Put your non-perishable food next to your mailbox and the post man will pick them up when they deliver your mail

Smoking Ban Reactions

9 05 2008

I’ve gathered some reaction from Senators on the smoking ban vote yesterday.  Most of them are in favor…having a hard time getting quotes from those who voted against.  Again, if I get them, I’ll update this post…

Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek):

“Creating smokefree workplaces in Michigan may be the most important public health issue we address this year. It will help protect workers and families from harmful secondhand smoke and reduce long-term health care costs to the state and to businesses. Research has also shown that in other places that have gone smoke free the economy does not suffer as some have argued. I hope this legislation moves forward swiftly and the Governor has the opportunity to sign it into law as soon as possible.”

Sen. Ray Basham (D-Taylor)

“I have been advocating for the health and well-being of Michigan families for more than ten years, and this is a major victory today in ensuring they have a safe, smokefree environment to dine, work and play,” said Sen. Basham. “This is one of the biggest health concerns of our generation and a massive burden to state and commercial healthcare resources, and I urge my colleagues in the House to continue their support and act quickly to protect the people of Michigan.”

Senator Glenn S. Anderson (D-Westland)

“This is one of the most important issues we will debate this year, in terms of protecting public health and reducing preventable smoking-related illnesses here in Michigan,” said Sen. Anderson. “Workers in service industries shouldn’t be forced to choose between their health and their job.”

Sen. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit)

“I first decided to support this legislation after hearing about a woman in her 20’s who never smoked, but died of lung cancer because she lived with her father, who was a smoker,” said Sen. Clarke. “We need to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke, which numerous studies have linked to cancer, asthma, emphysema and other diseases.”

Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks)

“Michigan residents have been asking for this and it is time we acted to protect the health of everyone, including business patrons and employees. I am pleased to tell the residents of the 21st Senate District that very soon they will be able to enjoy a meal out with their families and not be subjected to the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Sen. Alan Cropsey (R -Dewitt ) from Senate Floor Debate

I have the largest Indian casino or Native American casino in the state of Michigan in my district, and what’s going to happen? Just recently, I had a restaurant that had been a local landmark in Mount Pleasant. It’s been a landmark there for 50 years and has closed down, for whatever reason. Competition is tough in the restaurant business. What we are going to be doing by telling folks that, you know, all the restaurants and bars in Isabella County are going to be going smoke-free. However, the one at the Native American casino is not going to be regulated at all by the state. So guess where all the smokers are going to go when they want a nice meal or when they want a drink? They are going to go to the Native America casino. Now what is that going to do?

We are sending a currently tax-paying citizen of the state of Michigan and telling them, “You go to the casino where no taxes are being paid—no sales tax.” No property tax, no taxes are being paid-and we are going to be telling all the other restaurants in Mount Pleasant, “Sorry, you’re at a competitive disadvantage,” and more of them will go out of business. And what will happen then? Property values become depressed. Fewer sales taxes. And then you are going be coming back and asking me, as one of the members of Appropriations, we’re spending too much on the Department of Corrections because we don’t have enough money.

Sen. Valde Garcia (R-Marion Township ) from Senate Floor Debate

I opposed this bill not because I smoke because I don’t, but I believe this is a business decision best made by the business owners. People have a choice as to whether or not to frequent an establishment that allows smoking. They can choose to spend their money there. They can choose to work there. I’ve heard it said that we have a duty to protect the public health, but if it is our constitutional duty to protect the public health, then where do we stop? Let’s ban fast food. Let’s ban smoking. Let’s ban the use of alcohol. We have proof that all of these items harm the health of people. So why don’t we ban them? We don’t. We all know the answer to that. Just follow the money.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishiop (R- Rochester ) from Senate Floor Debate

Government, in this case, began with regulation of smoking. Then in its infinite wisdom began to mercilessly tax the product, and now government moves to ban its use entirely. This is a consistent pattern of government. It slowly intrudes into the private lives of individuals and businesses and ultimately attempts to govern every aspect of our lives. In effect, government is trying to protect us from ourselves.

As a non-smoker, I understand and appreciate the concern about the smoke and its hazardous impact. I sincerely do, and my heart goes out to all of you who have had relatives who have been impacted directly. But I want you to know that even though I respect the sponsor’s intent, he is a dear friend and I have been on the receiving end of a lot of his internal lobbying—as we would like to call it—over the years, having had the opportunity to sit next to him for so many years. I want you to know, I, as a father, as a husband, over the years make choices every day—personal choices. It is my responsibility to take control of my own life. In this case, I oftentimes choose smoke-free environments if my family chooses to go out. There are plenty out there—plenty. In fact, if you go to smokefreemichigan.org, you will see that there are over 5,000 smoke-free establishments—bars and restaurants—out there for you to choose from, and that list continues to grow at a rapid rate