Press Release – “Michigan Legislature Delivers Lump of Coal”

19 12 2008

From a Campaign for Smoke Free Michigan press release –

Michigan Legislature delivers lump of coal – no smokefree air for state residents
CSA frustrated with disregard for public health

Lansing, Mich. – Unable to work on a final compromise for smokefree air in Michigan, the state Legislature wrapped up Lame Duck this week and left the legislation to die.

Since both the House and Senate had passed different versions of House Bill 4163, the bill was sent to a conference committee to work out the differences. (The House had passed a version with exemptions in 2007; the Senate passed a version with no exemptions earlier this year). But leadership from each chamber was unable to work together on a final bill, and have left Lansing for the year.

“In the end, political gamesmanship is the only winner here,” said Susan Schechter, spokesperson for CSA and director of advocacy for the American Lung Association of Michigan. “Michigan workers are holding their breathe waiting for this law to pass. The leaders of these chambers know the public wants smokefree air, they have seen the science and economic numbers behind the movement, but instead they are listening to the dollars from Big Tobacco, casino and restaurant industries that flow into their campaign coffers.

“We have worked hard to educate lawmakers on the benefits of going smokefree and despite Michigan residents’ support on this issue, a select few legislators have chose to disregarded the public’s health and kill the bill. It’s an utter shame and a waste of time and money to start over this legislative process again in 2009, but that’s exactly what we have to do.”

Schecter did thank Reps. Brenda Clack, D-Flint, Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale and Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell and Sens. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond and Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt for their hard work and dedication to smokefree legislation during the conference committee.

Currently, more than half of Americans live in a city or state with smokefree workplace protection laws (34 states have smokefree workplace laws in effect). Gov. Jennifer Granholm has called on legislators to pass statewide smokefree legislation and vowed to sign the bill if it crossed her desk. CSA plans to continue to fight for smokefree air in 2009.

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One response

19 12 2008
Mike

I’m surprised they thanked the GOP Senate members of the conference committee. Everything I read said they did not seem willing to negotiate in good faith. A two-year phase-in for cigar bars still makes them illegal in a fairly short time, and a similar phase-in for Detroit’s casinos wasn’t going to grab many Detroit House rep votes.

The other idea, I’m not sure whose, would have had them attempt to renegotiate with the tribes and impose a Indian casino ban within 3 years and Detroit’s at the same time. That’s not how government-to-government relations are supposed to work, and would have only brought a federal lawsuit.

The anti-smoking groups proved far to rigid in the early part of this process, opposing tobacco shop exemptions that exist in 30-plus other states. Hopefully, both sides will be more realistic on what it will take to get a ban.

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