This past week, while debating the budget for the Department of Community Health, Republican Senator Howard Walker (R – Traverse City) added an amendment that would prohibit the department from enforcing the state’s smoking ban during certain types of charity fundraisers. This wasn’t an amendment created because charities from across the state have been asking for it, in fact it’s likely that the vast majority of charities would be opposed to it. Instead it was written to specifically allow smoking at an event in Sen. Walker’s own district so that he and his friends could sit around smoking cigars while the rest of us continue to follow the rules of the law.
Certainly, a 1-year state department budget seems like an inappropriate place to be making changes to statewide law like this, but it also shows once again the Republicans’ willingness to change the rules if and when they don’t like the results. They did it when they wanted to rewrite Oakland County’s district boundaries to benefit their party (news link) and even changed the rules of their own presidential primary when they didn’t like the outcome (news link).
What’s even more disappointing is that by carving out this exemption to Michigan’s smoking law, Republicans are opening the floodgates to further erosion of this law that is by all accounts working to both keep Michigan workers healthier and increase business at Michigan’s bars and restaurants.
If you think this is wrong, please take a moment to sign the petition at http://www.GOPsmokeout.com and send a message that no smoking means no smoking. Period.