In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Smoking Ban in Play
The evidence is mounting and the heat is growing so Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop is making noises that he may allow a vote to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. Behind closed doors this week, the senate Majority Leader did something a bit out of character. For years the GOP dominated senate has been the burial ground for any attempt to get the smoke out of your favorite eatery or watering hole. The Michigan Restaurant Association convinced the senate R's to kill the bill and it did. But now Bishop is permitting a discussion. Senator Tom George, one of two doctors in the GOP caucus, says the evidence is very clear that second hand smoke is very dangerous not only for patrons who are exposed for a couple of hours but for the employees who suck in the smoke for eight hours or more. Over at the MRA lobbyist Rob Gifford is sanguine about these closed-door talks. "It is not overly alarming," he contends. "The caucus talks about a variety of issues all the time." Maybe so but don't kid yourself, Gifford would be more content if there was no talk at all. Bishop recently got a nudge from a guy who ran the GOP senate show before. Former GOP leader Ken Sikkema met privately with Bishop. Sikkema had just completed a study on the dangers of second hand smoke and he merely urged Bishop to "read the report." Bishop, who remains opposed to the ban, may do what he did on the income tax hike last year. He did not favor that either but he allowed his colleagues to vote on it. The anti-smokers would take that in a heartbeat.