Campaign for Smoke Free Air Optimistic

28 05 2008

Even though I’v been a vocal supporter of an outright ban, I think today’s vote was the nail in the coffin.  I really don’t see Sen. Bishop letting a second, yet exact same, version of the smoking ban being called before the session ends on June 26.  However, the lobbyists disagree with me.

Lansing, Mich. – The Campaign for Smokefree Air (CSA) is encouraged today by the state House’s actions in moving the smokefree bill forward, but is disappointed that it chose to include exemptions, causing the bill to be sent to the other chamber. We were pleased by the additional support in the House, in that nine more representatives see the need for smokefree air. However, we are concerned that the House did not concur with the Senate passed version and instead allowed exemptions,” said Susan Schechter, spokesperson for CSA. “All employees deserve the same protections from secondhand smoke. We will continue to work with both chambers to pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace bill.”

The House passed a vehicle bill, HB 5074, which is essentially the same bill that was passed by the chamber in December. The bill was approved 65-39, and sent back to the Senate for consideration.

Of the 33 states that already have smokefree workplace laws, more than two dozen regulate smoking inside casinos, including six that provide smokefree gaming areas and halls. Three more states (Montana, Nebraska and Oregon) will expand their smokefree policies to include casinos in 2009. The city council in Atlantic City recently voted to close the loophole in New Jersey’s law that exempted casinos — all worksites in the city will be smokefree starting in October.


Smoking Ban Being Held Up

25 05 2008

Well, just like I predicted, the smoking ban is being held up in the house because the Senate version makes no exceptions for casino’s or cigar shops.  Cigar shops I’m on board with, but not enough to hold it up.  Casino’s shouldn’t be protected just because lawmakers are afraid the Detroit casino’s will be hurt.

The Lansing State-Jounral had an article yesterday that desciribes Speak of the House Leader Andy Dillon as sympathetic to the casino’s.  Dillon plans to call a vote on the ban, but he plans to add the exemptions back into the bill which means it would have to go back to the Senate for another vote

“We’ll see if the Senate would like to negotiate,” Dillon spokesman Greg Bird said.

The approach is not sitting well with Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester. “If the people of Michigan want a ban on smoking, it needs to be across the board,” Bishop spokesman Matt Marsden said.

I’m totally in agreement with Bishop’s camp here.  Call the freakin bill as is.  Give it a year and see just how it works.  You can’t pick and chose which businesses are exempt.  If you’re going to exempt casinos, then you really should exempt taverns (bars that don’t serve food).  I mean, they’re both adult oriented businesses, right? 

This is stupid.  Mr. Dillon, call the bill as is and let the legislature decide.

Tuesday Smoking Ban Update

20 05 2008

Well, it’s Tuesday and the House is back in session.  HB 4163 is on the calendar, but as a commentor pointed out over the weekend, it’s not likely to be called.  The sticking point?  Casinos.  The Senate version did not make an exception for casinos.  The House version did.  The House now has to pass the Senate’s version and from all accounts I’ve seen, that’s not probable right now.  The legislators are worried that Indian casinos woudn’t enforce the ban and being soverign grounds, Michigan laws do not affect them.  Everyone’s worried about the Detroit casinos.  It’s definately an economic concern, but, in my opinion, not enough of one to delay a smoking ban. 

The thing I keep reading over and over and even in the comment section of this blog is how can you ban something that is legal.  You ever hear of dry counties or adult use bans?  The Detroit Free Press had an editorial this morning that compares the smoking ban to another law that was passed in the interest of public safety.

This would hardly be the first government action taken in the name of public health and safety. Did you buckle up today?

And for those who say that bar, restaurant or casino employees who worry about secondhand smoke ought to find another job, well, such folks probably haven’t been looking for work lately in Michigan’s current economy.

Both great points.  I know how hard it is to find a job right now.  I’ve been told by more than one potential employer that they would like to hire me, but don’t have the money to do so.  I’m lucky I’ve got a side job that pays better than my full time job used to.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle points out, this whole debate lies in the hands of Detroit.

Detroit and Detroit-area Democrats are not about to support a ban that doesn’t take care of the casinos, bingo halls and others; without their support a ban goes nowhere. For solid strategic reasons Senate Republicans aren’t going to exempt anybody.

That means a stalemate as well as a great talking point for the Republicans. If you want to ban smoking from bars, restaurants and all other businesses to protect workers from second-hand smoke — the major anti-smoking argument — then you ban it for all workers, including those unlucky enough to work in a Detroit casino.

I know I keep mentioning this, but I have plenty of experience with this exact same scenario in my old homestate.  I always wanted to run for Governor just to start a succession from the City of Chicago.  It sucks that one corner of the state has all the power to set the agenda for the rest of the state.  This whole thing is being held up by one part of the state. 

I’ll keep following the debate, but it’s looking less and less likely that we’re going to see something quickly.  The Senate passed it back to the House so the House looks like the bad guys.  It must be an election year or something…..