That’s right, all 148 people will be working on the budget at the same time. Picture it, all of the legislators checking each other’s math, punching in numbers on a calculator, and really getting down to work, full time, for eight hours a day until June. This truly is government efficiency at its finest.
While Dillon, Bishop, and the rest of the politicos push beads around on a communal abacus in an attempt to deal with the budget, the future of Michigan residents’ health is beginning to look even more dim.
These decisions came at the close of three weeks worth of testimony in the House Regulatory Reform Committee on the various smoke free bills, as well as three state-funded field trips to various casinos and cigar bars. These field trips were taken in the interests of “taking in all of the information” so that committee members could make a balanced decision on the welfare of the state. I’ll remind you that the committee is chaired by Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, who has previously voted against a comprehensive smoke free bill.
Michigan residents want this bill to pass. A poll of Michigan voters conducted by EPIC-MRA showed that two-thirds support a smoking ban in all places, including Detroit’s casinos.
As for the State’s dire economic circumstances that have been the excuse for not dealing with this pressing public health matter, take a look at some of these 2007 statistics:
- Michigan spent $3.4 billion on health care costs directly related to smoking
- Michigan lost $3.95 billion in productivity due to smoking.
- Each Michigan family paid $306 for smoking related health care
But, to their credit, not ALL of the Michigan legislators are pleased with Bishop and Dillon’s latest stall tactic. Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, a champion for smoke free workplaces has rebuked the leadership for their inability to deal with more than one issue at a time.
“I'm OK with multi-tasking," Basham told the Detroit News. "When 3,000 people are dying in Michigan every year from secondhand smoke and smoking-related diseases are costing us billions a year for health care, we should find time to deal with this."
The leaders’ excuse that “now isn’t a good time” isn’t valid. Based on the mere fact that the bill has been rolling around the Michigan Legislature for the past 11 years, it seems that NO time is a good time for the state’s public health. People are getting restless, and talk of an expensive ballot proposal is building.
The lawmakers have said that a ballot initiative is the last thing they want to see, but I don’t buy it and neither should you. After all, why should the lawmakers make the so-called “tough” decisions when they can pawn off their jobs on the people? It’s become shockingly clear that Dillon and Bishop don’t have the guts to stand up for public health. They would rather engage in petty arguments, take expensive field trips, point fingers, and push papers than address their constituents needs. Let them know they’re wrong.
Call and write Andy Dillon and Mike Bishop and ask them to do the right thing and support what the majority of Michiganders want; now, not this summer.
Dillon can be reached at (888) 737-3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishop can be reached at (877) 924-7467 or email@example.com