Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Bishop lets Michigan down - needlessly delays smoking bill

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) referred the smoke free workplaces bill to committee. Unfortunately, the Senator chose the Government Operations & Reform Committee, a.k.a. “Where Bills Go to Die.”

Last week there was hope on the smoking ban. The House of Representatives had passed HB 4377 with 73 votes. Although Senator Bishop had previously stated that he wouldn’t even glance at a bill with exemptions (HB 4377 exempts casinos and cigar bars), the House vote seemed to change his tone slightly and Bishop hinted that he would “take the temperature” of the room. If people supported the bill he’d take up the issue.

I don’t know what room Bishop is in, but clearly that room is NOT in Michigan. Bishop has since said that he’s in no rush to even consider the bill. So, despite the fact that 2/3 of Michiganders want smoke free air, and that we’re one of only 13 states without a smoke free law of any kind, and that it has been proven time and time and time again that businesses are NOT harmed by smoke free legislation, Bishop fully intends to let this issue die.

Don’t let him get away with these shenanigans. There are some who have said that this is just the way things are done in Lansing. That certain legislators’ lack of action and political gameplaying are par for the course, should be expected, and that nothing can be done...

Baloney. Senators Ray Basham (D-Taylor) and Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) have been clamoring for a smoke free bill because they "get it" and have been listening to what their constituents want. Senator Tom George (R-Kalamazoo), a doctor who understands just how deadly secondhand smoke is, pushed Bishop to take up the bill during the last session. There are Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle who are behind this issue. The problem isn’t the legislators, it's the “leadership” in the legislature.

Bishop has said he won’t be pressured by any groups to move the smoke free bill. That despite public support, he has no intention to bring it to the floor. Since when is it ok for elected officials to so blatantly shirk their jobs? Who gave Bishop the green light to discount the majority of Michiganders in favor of a small group of folks who make up a mere fraction of the state’s population?

Dillon didn’t move on the bill until he was told to, repeatedly, by thousands of Michiganders who shut down his lines calling for a hearing. It was the grassroots that helped get the smoke free air issue heard, the grassroots who have moved it along, and the grassroots who CAN put this issue to bed.

Now it’s time to send Senator Bishop the same message: “Take action on the smoke free bill NOW, not later, not when you feel like it, NOW.”

There is no good reason why this bill should be delayed any further. Call Senator Mike Bishop and tell your friends, neighbors, family and anyone else you run into to call him, too.

Here is Bishop’s contact info:
Phone: 877-924-7467 or 517-373-2417
Address: 883 Great Oaks Blvd.; Rochester, MI 48307

Don’t let Dillon off the hook, either. He’s partially to blame for this mess after barring votes on clean versions of the bill which would have forced Bishop’s hand. Speaker Dillon may have moved the bill, but his job is far from done, he may be able to persuade Bishop to take another look at this issue.

Call Dillon and tell him you don’t want this bill to die.
Phone: 888-737-3455 or 517-373-0857
Address: 26284 Graham Rd.; Redford Township, MI 48239

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