In this issue of Lansing Update:
This week the State Senate passed legislation that would put in place a comprehensive prohibition on smoking across Michigan. The bill now needs concurrence from the House of Representatives, which last year passed a differing version of the legislation that included numerous exemptions, including for Detroit casinos.
According to House Bill 4163 [Link no longer available —Ed.], which was discharged from the Senate Government Operations Committee and passed by the full body 25-12 the same day, smoking would be prohibited in bars, restaurants and all workplaces in Michigan, including bingo halls and casinos.
The legislation has been a career priority for State Senator Raymond Basham (D-Taylor), who has led a fight for smokefree air in Michigan citing concern for public health. Sen. Basham’s fight is supported by the Coalition for a Smokefree Michigan, a grassroots organization comprised of dozens of health organizations. Arguing in support of public health and care for the environment, the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors last year voted to support the coalition’s efforts.
Nine Republicans and all but one Democrat voted in favor of the legislation after Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) announced he would allow a vote on the bill, despite his opposition to the measure. Republicans speaking in favor of the bill cited studies and research from the surgeon general that discussed the long-term effects of second-hand smoke. Republicans voting against the bill claimed government intrusion on private business, urging for the market, rather than the government, to dictate the policy.
The Senate-passed version of House Bill 4163 must now be reconciled with the version passed by the House, which may vote on the issue as early as next week. Those in favor of a smoke free Michigan can send a quick message to their representative by using the Catholic Legislative Advocacy Network [Link no longer available —Ed.].