Archive for the ‘John Gleason’ Category

Michigan Senate Passes Ban on Smoking in Restaurants, Bars, and Casinos

May 18, 2008

On Thursday, May 8th, the Michigan Senate voted on House Bill 4163, sponsored by Brenda Clack (D-Flint).  I first brought you a story on the smoking ban back in December.  The bill, entitled, “Public health code” would ban smoking in restaurants, bars, and casinos.  The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by my Senator, Ray Basham (D-Taylor), is a stronger bill than the original House bill, which did not include a ban in Detroit’s 3 casinos, bingo halls, or cigar bars (that I just find ironic and completely stupid).

Here’s a copy of the bill that the Senate voted on: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/billengrossed/House/pdf/2007-HEBS-4163.pdf, and here is where you can get all of the information on the bill: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(ctxoevbltnhsnf55zebx5duh))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2007-HB-4163.

Here’s an excerpt from the Senate Journal:

Third Reading of Bills

Senator Cropsey moved that the rules be suspended and that the following bill, now on the order of Third Reading of Bills, be placed on its immediate passage at the head of the Third Reading of Bills calendar:

House Bill No. 4163

The motion prevailed, a majority of the members serving voting therefor.

The following bill was read a third time:

House Bill No. 4163, entitled

A bill to amend 1978 PA 368, entitled “Public health code,” by amending the heading of part 129 and sections 12601, 12603, 12611, 12613, 12614, 12905, and 12915 (MCL 333.12601, 333.12603, 333.12611, 333.12613, 333.12614, 333.12905, and 333.12915), sections 12601 and 12613 as amended by 1988 PA 315, sections 12603 and 12611 as amended by 1993 PA 217, section 12614 as added by 1988 PA 296, section 12905 as amended by 1993 PA 242, and section 12915 as amended by 1982 PA 526, and by adding section 12606; and to repeal acts and parts of acts.

The President, Lieutenant Governor Cherry, assumed the Chair.

The question being on the passage of the bill,

The bill was passed, a majority of the members serving voting therefor, as follows:

Roll Call No. 298                                 Yeas—25

Anderson Clark-Coleman Jelinek Prusi
Basham Clarke Kahn Schauer
Birkholz George McManus Scott
Brater Gleason Olshove Switalski
Brown Hunter Pappageorge Thomas
Cassis Jacobs Patterson Whitmer
Cherry

Nays—12

Allen Cropsey Jansen Sanborn
Barcia Garcia Kuipers Stamas
Bishop Gilbert Richardville Van Woerkom

Excused—1

Hardiman

Not Voting—0

In The Chair: President

Pursuant to Joint Rule 20, the full title of the act shall be inserted to read as follows:

“An act to protect and promote the public health; to codify, revise, consolidate, classify, and add to the laws relating to public health; to provide for the prevention and control of diseases and disabilities; to provide for the classification, administration, regulation, financing, and maintenance of personal, environmental, and other health services and activities; to create or continue, and prescribe the powers and duties of, departments, boards, commissions, councils, committees, task forces, and other agencies; to prescribe the powers and duties of governmental entities and officials; to regulate occupations, facilities, and agencies affecting the public health; to regulate health maintenance organizations and certain third party administrators and insurers; to provide for the imposition of a regulatory fee; to provide for the levy of taxes against certain health facilities or agencies; to promote the efficient and economical delivery of health care services, to provide for the appropriate utilization of health care facilities and services, and to provide for the closure of hospitals or consolidation of hospitals or services; to provide for the collection and use of data and information; to provide for the transfer of property; to provide certain immunity from liability; to regulate and prohibit the sale and offering for sale of drug paraphernalia under certain circumstances; to provide for the implementation of federal law; to provide for penalties and remedies; to provide for sanctions for violations of this act and local ordinances; to provide for an appropriation and supplements; to repeal certain acts and parts of acts; to repeal certain parts of this act; and to repeal certain parts of this act on specific dates,”.

The Senate agreed to the full title.

Protests

Senators Cropsey and Garcia, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of House Bill No. 4163.

Senator Cropsey moved that the statement he made during the discussion of the bill be printed as his reasons for voting “no.”

The motion prevailed.

Senator Cropsey’s statement is as follows:

I’m not going to vote for this legislation, this substitute at this point. I want to give my explanation why. First of all, I think it’s very interesting that this is the United States of America, supposedly a free nation. By the way, I don’t smoke. My wife doesn’t smoke. None of my kids smoke. My parents don’t smoke. I don’t know of any of my brothers or sisters who smoke. We grew up non-smoking, and I hope we always stay non-smoking. We grew non-drinking, and I hope we always stay non-drinking—of alcoholic beverages.

But this is America. What we are talking about is a legal substance that people take for enjoyment knowing full well that it has health consequences. And we have restaurants and bars in this state where they have put up “No Smoking” signs because the owners of that restaurant or that bar say they are not going to allow smoking in this restaurant or bar. Why is that? Because there are people like myself who say we don’t want to go to a restaurant where there’s smoking. So we don’t frequent restaurants where there is smoking. And there are more and more restaurants that are going non-smoking because people are realizing the hazards of smoking. But that is a decision that we have made.

Once again, tobacco is a legal substance and smoking of tobacco is a legal way to take that substance. So I think from a philosophical standpoint, I have a problem with that.

The other part of this is we did have some amendments up that talked about what about the Indian casinos. I have the largest Indian casino or Native American casino in the state of Michigan in my district, and what’s going to happen? Just recently, I had a restaurant that had been a local landmark in Mount Pleasant. It’s been a landmark there for 50 years and has closed down, for whatever reason. Competition is tough in the restaurant business. What we are going to be doing by telling folks that, you know, all the restaurants and bars in Isabella County are going to be going smoke-free. However, the one at the Native American casino is not going to be regulated at all by the state. So guess where all the smokers are going to go when they want a nice meal or when they want a drink? They are going to go to the Native America casino. Now what is that going to do?

We are sending a currently tax-paying citizen of the state of Michigan and telling them, “You go to the casino where no taxes are being paid—no sales tax.” No property tax, no taxes are being paid-and we are going to be telling all the other restaurants in Mount Pleasant, “Sorry, you’re at a competitive disadvantage,” and more of them will go out of business. And what will happen then? Property values become depressed. Fewer sales taxes. And then you are going be coming back and asking me, as one of the members of Appropriations, we’re spending too much on the Department of Corrections because we don’t have enough money.

This is just amazing to me that we would be doing this without giving these restaurants and bars some mechanism whereby they can cater to people who wish to smoke, especially in areas where there is going to be very severe competition for their food dollars and for their cigarette dollar.

So I would hope that at this point, we would turn down this substitute. I do know the Majority Leader has a substitute that he is willing to offer that would allow a restaurant or bar to post that they are a smoking restaurant or bar. And why is that important? Because then, as a non-smoker, you know you don’t want to go into that place. But, as a smoker, you know that you’re welcome.

And what do we do? We’ll keep those taxes going that will be coming into the state of Michigan. And you let the free market work in that situation. Say, if you want to go to a smoking restaurant or bar, fine. If you don’t want to, fine, you don’t need to. But it’s not big-nanny government telling you what you are going to do and what you aren’t going to do. And, furthermore, purely from a state point of view, you aren’t shipping or forcing or encouraging our taxpayers to go somewhere else where you can’t tax them.

So for those reasons, I’m going to vote “no.” If this is sent back to General Orders and the Majority Leader’s substitute is adopted on General Orders, then I do plan on voting for this legislation. But at this point, I plan on voting against it.

Senator Garcia’s statement is as follows:

I opposed this bill not because I smoke because I don’t, but I believe this is a business decision best made by the business owners. People have a choice as to whether or not to frequent an establishment that allows smoking. They can choose to spend their money there. They can choose to work there. I’ve heard it said that we have a duty to protect the public health, but if it is our constitutional duty to protect the public health, then where do we stop? Let’s ban fast food. Let’s ban smoking. Let’s ban the use of alcohol. We have proof that all of these items harm the health of people. So why don’t we ban them? We don’t. We all know the answer to that. Just follow the money.

I respect those who have opposing views, but, again, I go back to the point that I think it’s a business decision; it’s a personal decision. People can choose whether or not to frequent those establishments.

Senators Basham, George, Schauer, Jacobs, Patterson, Gleason, Scott, Allen, Anderson, Bishop, Sanborn, Cassis and Pappageorge asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.

The motion prevailed.

Senator Basham’s statement is as follows:

I know a lot has been said about this issue, so I won’t go down that road. I would just like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for protecting patrons and workers from secondhand smoke again.

Senator George’s statement is as follows:

I want to add my remarks to those of the previous speaker. I just want to put in a little context as to how we got to this point. My own position has evolved on this issue, say, in the last few years. I think the reason we are here is because of the change in the body of evidence related to the hazards of secondhand smoke. It was in 1986 that the Surgeon General issued a first report on the potential hazards of involuntary spoke exposure—1986. But since that time, there has been, literally, hundreds of peer-reviewed medical studies and several additional major reports that make the solid, scientific case that secondhand smoke is dangerous and is a leading cause of death in our country and in Michigan. It was two years ago that Surgeon General Richard Carmona issued a very definitive study showing that secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adults and sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory problems in children.

So I am pleased that we are at this point today. Thousands of Michigan residents have their health placed at risk by exposure to secondhand smoke, and we now have an opportunity to reduce this risk. Some will say that the government has no interest in this, but we do. We have made laws ensuring that food is properly cooked, that equipment is properly cleaned, and that employees must wash their hands. We take these laws as being second nature today, and it is the same way regarding secondhand smoke. It is something that we will take as second nature in the future.

Secondhand smoke is a real hazard, and eliminating exposure in workplaces, restaurants, and bars is consentient with our constitutional duty to protect the health of the citizens of Michigan.

Senator Schauer’s statement is as follows:

I rise to thank Senator Basham for his leadership on this issue. This is a House bill introduced by Representative Clack, but we know that the Senator from the 8th District is the one who has led on this issue for many, many, many years. I would also like to thank the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Bishop, for allowing this vote to happen today. This is an issue that has certainly had some division in this state, and we know that there are some groups that don’t support a smoking ban in workplaces.

I want to thank the advocacy community, that has really helped educate us here in this chamber, which I think really reflects the interest, by and large, of the people in this state. This may be the single, most important thing we can do to improve health status in this state, so I am proud of this chamber today and the debate that we have had on a very important health issue, and I rise in support.

Senator Jacobs’ statement is as follows:

Although I have about six pages of talking points and statistics on my desk, I just really rise today to say that I am going to be taking this vote in memory of my father who died from lung cancer a number of years ago. Today we are going to take action that will hopefully prevent many other deaths from cancer for our loved ones and the people who live in our districts.

You know, I hope that what we do today will allow people to see their grandchildren married and their great-grandchildren born, which is something that up until today’s action, we didn’t actually have any control over it in this state. So I really want to really thank my colleague I know we are not supposed to use Ray Basham’s name, but from the 8th District for being so tenacious and so dogged on this issue. We are really going to be giving an incredible gift to the people of Michigan today, and I really want to thank everybody for voting for this as we go forward to pressing our buttons.

Senator Patterson’s statement is as follows:

I would like to join today in the remarks of my colleague from the 20th District. I would also like to reiterate the position that I took was one of change not evolution. It came about because of the evidence becoming incontrovertible.

I owe my colleague from the 8th District enormous amount of gratitude for his dogged determination and commitment to this issue to do the right thing. He has, in fact, been courageous, and there are times when it pains me to think that he has been, but I must admit it on this occasion.

Senator Gleason’s statement is as follows:

I would add my voice to those who congratulate Senator Basham. I would offer this unique perspective. When you have issues which are not visible, when you go to work and visit businesses across this state, sometimes people do not understand that you are in a compromised situation. I know as an individual, as I’ve mentioned on several occasions, someone who has had a major surgery, a transplant, we have autoimmune issues. When we are put in these situations, whether it’s out at a restaurant or at work, it’s not readily visible that we have these particular concerns. So I would like to thank Senator Basham on a personal level.

But also I would like to further state that we all watched this process come out of the House. I think we lost many of the advantages that we can offer citizens and workers of Michigan by not carrying out particular interest groups for this legislation. When I was watching the process in the House, when favor, when exceptions, when advantages were given to special groups, it seemed like the impetus for the bill itself fell apart.

I would be tremendously remiss if I didn’t thank Representative Clack from Flint, Michigan, for joining her efforts with Senator Basham. This is not an issue that finds lines of demarcation easily. I would like to thank the Senator and

the Representative who led this effort. These were trying times, and yet, it wasn’t necessarily for themselves that they advanced this cause, but for all of the citizens of Michigan.

We were late to the party. Other states have done this. It’s nice to add Michigan to that list. We know the concerns that we have when we were involved with the package last week about health insurance reform. One of our main causes for the rise in the cost of health insurance is secondhand smoke. There will be collateral gains to this legislation. We are only touching on the surface of what benefits this will be offering to our state.

So I would congratulate all of those who saw that this was important for the state of Michigan.

Senator Scott’s statement is as follows:

I rise in support of this bill. You know, we talk about healthy Michigan, and this lets us know that we care about the health of our constituents in this state. I belong to a number of women’s groups nationally and one of the issues that we deal with is health. This is a great step in the right direction.

I certainly want to thank the Senator from District 8 for being real steadfast in this because that’s what it’s about. You have a passion for something and believe in it. You have to keep standing, and I’m glad that my colleague kept standing. I’m glad that we had a Representative over in the House who authored this bill; that they could work together on it. I certainly do hope this bill remains as we have passed it in the Senate today.

There are a number of our young people who are smoking, even in middle schools now. So this sends a message to them that smoking is not good for you. It is not healthy. I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that we came together, bipartisan to support what will make Michigan healthier. We’ve done it in big states, bigger than Michigan, and they are surviving, and we will survive too. We’ll survive better because we’ll be healthier.

So, again, I thank everyone who supported this bill. It’s a step in the right direction. It certainly gives me hope that one day my bills will pass too. Ray kept his back straight, and I’m going to keep mine straight. So thank you everyone. This is wonderful.

Senator Allen’s statement is as follows:

I also rise in opposition to this substitute on a straight philosophical level. How much more mandate do we need to put on the citizens of our state? How many more regulatory environments do we need to put forward? And what is the actual role of government? I respect the lively and broad-based debate that has occurred, but I feel that restaurateurs and local businesses can make the best decisions in regards to what is the appropriate way to control smoking. I hail from Northern Michigan and we have one of the largest voluntary compliance of smoke-free restaurants in the state of Michigan.

Where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line with restaurant smoking? How about food and the amount of calories that need to be consumed? What do we do in ergonomics standards? What do we do on more licensing and regulations on the citizens of this state?

I respect the process and will be voting against this substitute. More licensure. More regulation. Where do we draw the line on the citizens of this state?

This is a controlled substance. It’s perfectly well to be regulated by individuals. We have good laws already in place.

Senator Anderson’s statement is as follows:

Members, we have reached a point here—and I know a number of members have already thanked the Senator from the 8th District for his efforts on this issue—and I did want to add a couple of comments now for his dogged determination in getting this legislation through. We would not be at this point today in history—and I do say in history—because I think this is probably one of the most important issues that we will debate in the entire year in this Legislature and in this Senate.

I believe that it is such an issue that sometimes we overlook some of the other peripheral things and the other people who are affected. I know we are talking about, in many cases, the consumers and the citizens of Michigan who go into these establishments who are exposed to the secondhand smoke. We also, I think, tend to forget those folks who are working as waiters and servers and our children, in some cases, our grandchildren, our brothers and sisters, and our direct family members, wives and husbands. Those folks don’t have a choice whether or not they are working in that restaurant. It’s a choice between income or their health. They should not be forced to make that decision.

I believe that it is the right thing to do, and this is the time to do it. Folks, if we do anything this year that makes a difference to the state of Michigan, this is the issue. I would urge everyone to support it, and I thank my good friend Senator Basham.

Senator Bishop’s statement is as follows:

First, I want to express my appreciation for the way in which the body handled this issue and the way that we were able to conduct a civil debate on the subject, an issue that seems to be growing in popularity as the day goes on. But as an individual member of this legislative body, I rise today to express my opposition to the present proposal. I have two specific objections, and these have been made earlier by other members, but I want to reiterate.

First, this legislation is simply incompatible with the free-market principles that I and many of my colleagues hold dear.

Second, this is a blatant overage by government into the private business environment and into the individual freedoms of our citizens. It is an absolute breach of what I have always believed to be the role of government. That is my personal opinion. The free-market principles which are at the root of our country and our nation’s economy have always been unique in the world. Historically, throughout our nation’s history, we trust our citizens and our businesses with the freedom to establish an environment that is mutually beneficial to both the business and the consumer. In the case before us today, we see a growing trend and it is nationwide. I will admit, to snuff out the use of tobacco, that, to me, is a noble cause as we can stipulate the harmful effects to secondhand smoke and the tragic toll smoking has had on so many of our citizens for so long. In fact, I think all of us can relate to a certain extent to the impact of secondhand smoke and cigarette smoke.

We understand the facts, all of us do, but so does the free market. Here in Michigan is a great example of businesses across the state reacting to market pressures. They have to because that is what a business does. In this case, as you know, business is not going quite well these days. In a difficult economy and a competitive environment—the business environment—the number of non-smoking business establishments has grown dramatically over recent years. It has done so as business owners recognize the opportunity to capitalize on those citizens who prefer smoke-free environments.

The market naturally reacts to business trends, and if it doesn’t, our strong-willed Michiganders will find a new place to spend their money. And in the case of the campaign for a smoke-free environment, the market has worked, as citizens continue to vote with their feet and businesses adapt to the demands of the citizens.

And I would note that all of this is happening without a single bit of effort, without a single bit of intervention by the government. There is no question that government does have a right to intervene in certain circumstances. That is not in dispute, but I think we all agree at some point in time we have to draw the line somewhere, which leads me to my concern about the role of government and its slow creep in to our everyday private lives.

Government, in this case, began with regulation of smoking. Then in its infinite wisdom began to mercilessly tax the product, and now government moves to ban its use entirely. This is a consistent pattern of government. It slowly intrudes into the private lives of individuals and businesses and ultimately attempts to govern every aspect of our lives. In effect, government is trying to protect us from ourselves.

As a non-smoker, I understand and appreciate the concern about the smoke and its hazardous impact. I sincerely do, and my heart goes out to all of you who have had relatives who have been impacted directly. But I want you to know that even though I respect the sponsor’s intent, he is a dear friend and I have been on the receiving end of a lot of his internal lobbying—as we would like to call it—over the years, having had the opportunity to sit next to him for so many years. I want you to know, I, as a father, as a husband, over the years make choices every day—personal choices. It is my responsibility to take control of my own life. In this case, I oftentimes choose smoke-free environments if my family chooses to go out. There are plenty out there—plenty. In fact, if you go to smokefreemichigan.org, you will see that there are over 5,000 smoke-free establishments—bars and restaurants—out there for you to choose from, and that list continues to grow at a rapid rate.

I think we have to ask the questions, the obvious questions: When will it stop? How much control do you want? And when will people have to stop thinking for themselves entirely? I personally believe enough is enough. Let’s get back to the fundamentals of government.

Clearly, we have a lot of issues facing this state. Let the free market work. Trust people to make the right decision for themselves, and all the while, control the growth of government. That is our responsibility.

If you agree with me and you do not agree with this proposal in front of you today, I want you to know that I have a proposal that I am prepared to offer after the conclusion of the vote on this to keep this issue alive, to address a proposal that would be a ban across the board but would restore free-market principles. If that is something that you are looking to support, I urge you to join with me today and defeat this bill before you now.

Senator Sanborn’s statement is as follows:

I do want to echo the comments made by the Majority Leader. I think he has done a great job of articulating the position as to how the free market works, and it does, in fact, work. More and more restaurants, by their own choice, are going smoke-free on an even daily basis here in Michigan.

Please forgive me for playing the role of the great Senator Harry Gast, who would have said exactly what was on his mind, but I feel compelled to do so. This is another case of government stepping in and sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s one more case why I love my country, but, God, some days I fear my government.

Senator Cassis’ statement is as follows:

Truly, I think today our Senate has passed legislation with enormous impact on our residents here today and our children and our grandchildren in the future. I want to thank the work of Senator Basham and the fine comments of Senator Jacobs. While I truly respect that some would advocate for protection of a minority of smokers over our well-being and the health of the majority, it is important to recognize some statistics and anecdotal feedback from restaurants around the state show that initially there may be a short downturn, due to smokers who temporarily don’t patronize their

facility—their favorite establishment—but they do come back. Importantly—and I guess I have to say ironically—tobacco has become a tax aphrodisiac in our state to continue spending and not strictly for smoking cessation efforts.

Questions have been raised: What’s the role of government? Well, I remember when I first raised my hand to become a member of the Novi City Council, I did so with great respect for the health, safety, and general welfare of all our citizens. In that regard, since I’ve been a legislator, we’ve looked at helmets—you’ve got to wear a helmet in Michigan if you are on a motorcycle, seatbelts, requiring children to be in safety car seats and booster seats.

So again, on the respect to health, safety, and general welfare, I do believe and I doubt sincerely that today will be the last attempt to uphold health, safety, and general welfare in our state.

Senator Pappageorge’s statement is as follows:

You know, no law is perfect. Certainly, this one isn’t and we spent a lot of time on the Indian casinos which proves that point. The concern always before we do our final vote is to understand and identify as soon as we can the unintended consequences that go with that law. I give you an example. Do we want to put cigar bars out of business? Do we want to end that industry, small as it is? So I would like to see what this substitute is that our Majority Leader spoke about.

Now, procedurally, that’s tough to do because we have to vote “no” on this one to find out what else we might try and do without violating what we’re trying to do here, which is ban smoking in as many places as possible. So I think all of us will be torn on this vote. Do you vote “no” so you can see what the substitute looks like, or do you vote “yes” and never find out if the substitute might have taken care of some unintended consequences? So I would ask you to consider that when you vote.

So, the bill will be passed on to the House.  As of the 14th, it had been tabled for the next session.

Here are some quotes on the bill:

  • “This is a historic opportunity to concur with the Senate and become the 34thstate to protect the public’s health and stimulate the economy.  The Senate took a momentous step today, and I congratulate their leadership.” ~~ Representative Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale)
  • “We’re going to need every Democratic vote, and I’m not sure we have it.” ~~Representative Paul Condino (D-Southfield).  I disagree.  I’m pretty confident that it will pass the House.
  • “I used to be on the wrong side of the issue.  Now I’m on the right side.” ~~Bruce Patterson (R-Canton)
  • “This is overreaching by government into businesses and the lives of individuals.” ~~Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), who said that he allowed the bill to come up for a vote even though he opposed it because it was an issue that the public cared about.
  • The fact that the Senate passed the bill “sends a strong message across Michigan and the nation that we place a high priority on the health of our citizens.” ~~Governor Jennifer Granholm (Democrat)
  • “What’s appropriate in an office building wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate in a bowling alley or a bar.  Those in the hospitality industry need to be responsive to the desires of their customers.” ~~Rich Studley, Executive Vice President of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.  He thinks the legislation is “unnecessary.”
  •  “This country was founded on freedom of choice. To ban everything you don’t like is wrong.” ~~Gerry Schaultz (Ferndale)
  • “I’m all for the ban. Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk.” ~~Corey Davis (Detroit)

Personally, I am with Mike Bishop – this is no place for the government to step in.  If they want to band smoking in parks and sidewalks, go right ahead.  That’s public air, and people shouldn’t have to breathe other people’s smoke, but we’re talking about the government reaching in to PRIVATE businesses and telling them what to allow their customers to do or not do.

And the cigar bar thing is just ridiculous.

I am disappointed in the 9 Republicans who crossed over.  I don’t like smoke either, but I still CHOOSE to go to restaurants where people smoke.  If you don’t want to breathe smoke, don’t go to restaurants where there’s smoking.  Complain to the management and see if they’ll change it, but don’t have the government stick its nose in private businesses.

I’ll keep you updated as the bill continues.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

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Michigan Legislature to Vote on Making It Harder to Raise Taxes

April 18, 2008

On April 15th, the Michigan Senate voted down Senate Joint Resolution L, “A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, by amending section 26 of article IV, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes.”

There bill was defeated 24-12, with 2 not voting.  26 would be needed for the resolution to pass.  The following are those that voted for the resolution (sponsors in bold; party cross-overs in italics): Jason Allen (R-Traverse City), Glenn Anderson (D-Westland), Jim Barcia (D-Bay City), Patricia Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Township), Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), Cameron Brown (R-Fawn River Township), Nancy Cassis (R-Novi), Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), Valde Garcia (R-Howell), Thomas George (R-Kalamazoo), Judson Gilbert (R-Algonac), Bill Hardiman (R-Kentwood), Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township), Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks), Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw Townshi) (primary sponsor), Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), Michelle McManus (R-Leland), John Pappageorge (R-Troy), Bruce Patterson (R-Canton), Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), Alan Sanborn (R-Richmond), Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek), Tony Stamas (R-Midland), and Gerald Van Woerkom (R-Muskegon).

Those voting against the resolution: my Senator Ray Basham (D-Taylor), Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor), Deborah Cherry (D-Burton), Irma Clarke-Coleman (D-Detroit), Hansen Clark (D-Detroit), John Gleason (D-Grand Blanc), Dennis Olshove (D-Warren), Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming), Martha Scott (D-Highland Park), Michael Switalski (D-Roseville), Samuel Thomas (D-Detroit), and Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing).

Those not voting: Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) and Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods).

The resolution is expected to be reintroduced some time next week.  I really think that it will pass, since a lot of the protest against this resolution was that it was a last minute resolution and the Senators should have more time to look it over.  All the Republicans need is 2 more, and I think that they’ll get that.  I HOPE that they’ll get that, and I hope that it’ll pass the House.

Here’s a copy of the floor summary of the resolution:

Senate Joint Resolution L (as introduced)
Sponsor: Senator Roger Kahn, M.D.
Committee:

CONTENT

The joint resolution proposes an amendment to Article IV, Section 26 of the State Constitution to provide that a bill to expand the base of services subject to a tax imposed on their proceeds could not become law without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house.

If two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house approved the joint
resolution, it would have to be submitted to the voters at the next general election.

Legislative Analyst: Suzanne Lowe

FISCAL IMPACT

There is no way to estimate the potential fiscal impact of this proposed constitutional amendment, but it definitely would make it more difficult to increase a tax on services.

At the present time, 16 states impose “supermajority” requirements to increase state taxes. Of these states, nine enacted their supermajority requirement in the 1990s and one state adopted its in 2000. The size of the supermajorities required vary: Five states require a three-fifths vote (Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oregon); eight states require a two-thirds vote (Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, South Dakota, and Washington); and the remaining three states require a three-fourths vote (Arkansas, Michigan, and Oklahoma). In 13 of these 16 states, the supermajority requirement applies to all tax increases. In Michigan, a three-fourths supermajority vote is required to increase the State education property tax and the local school 18-mill tax.

Date Completed: 4-16-08                                                                   Fiscal Analyst: Jay Wortley

And here’s a copy of the actual resolution:

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION L

April 15, 2008, Introduced by Senators KAHN, PAPPAGEORGE, RICHARDVILLE, CASSIS, KUIPERS, BIRKHOLZ, CROPSEY, JANSEN, BISHOP, GILBERT, BROWN, McMANUS and ANDERSON and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, by amending section 26 of article IV, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the state of Michigan, That the following amendment to the state constitution of 1963, to provide for concurrence of 2/3 of the members of each house to make certain modifications to certain taxes, is proposed, agreed to, and submitted to the people of the state:

ARTICLE IV

Sec. 26. No bill shall be passed or become a law at any regular session of the legislature until it has been printed or reproduced and in the possession 1 of each house for at least five days. Every bill shall be read three times in each house before the final passage thereof. No bill shall become a law without the concurrence of a majority of the members elected to and serving in each house. HOWEVER, A BILL TO EXPAND THE BASE OF SERVICES SUBJECT TO A TAX IMPOSED ON THE PROCEEDS OF THOSE SERVICES SHALL NOT BECOME LAW WITHOUT THE CONCURRENCE OF TWO-THIRDS OF THE MEMBERS ELECTED TO AND SERVING IN EACH HOUSE. On the final passage of bills, the votes and names of the members voting thereon shall be entered in the journal.
Resolved further, That the foregoing amendment shall be submitted to the people of the state at the next general election in the manner provided by law.

Here’s a copy of the information from the Senate Journal:

Roll Call No. 229                                                  Yeas—24

Allen Cassis Jansen Patterson
Anderson Cropsey Jelinek Richardville
Barcia Garcia Kahn Sanborn
Birkholz George Kuipers Schauer
Bishop Gilbert McManus Stamas
Brown Hardiman Pappageorge Van Woerkom

NAYS—12

Basham Clark-Coleman Olshove Switalski
Brater Clarke Prusi Thomas
Cherry Gleason Scott Whitmer

EXCUSED—2

Hunter Jacobs    

NOT VOTING—0

In The Chair: President

Senator Cropsey moved to reconsider the vote by which the joint resolution was not adopted.
The question being on the motion to reconsider,
Senator Cropsey moved that further consideration of the joint resolution be postponed for today.
The motion prevailed.

Protests

Senators Prusi and Switalski, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the adoption of Senate Joint Resolution L and moved that the statements they made during the discussion of the joint resolution be printed as their reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Prusi’s statement is as follows:
The Constitution is our guiding document, and continually in my service in the Legislature, there have been references to the Constitution. Now you want to take and amend in a significant way our guiding documents, and you want to do it with less than 20 minutes or a half-hour heads-up on this issue. I think that is monumentally unfair, I believe that this is a politically-motivated ploy to get a headline on this April 15 tax day.
One year ago, the Senate Republicans had as part of their plan an expansion to the sales tax on the services performed in this state. You spent the last entire year running away from that plan, but that was part of what your thinking was a year ago as we wrestled with significant budget problems here in the state of Michigan. That service tax which was passed and given immediate effect last year was done so with Senate Republican votes. Now all of a sudden, you want to handcuff the Legislature into the supermajority scheme on a significant portion of what we were going to use to balance the state budget at some point in the future.
I find it ironic that you want to insert into our guiding document this paragraph that is big, nebulous, and really has had no opportunity to be studied or analyzed by our fiscal agencies, by Treasury, our attorneys, or anyone just so you can garner a headline here on Tax Day. I find that disturbing, and for that reason, among others, one of which being should not it be printed or reproduced in five days. We barely got five minutes with this, folks.
I think that is a sad commentary on how we are running this process, and I would ask my colleagues to join me in voting “no” on this.

Senator Switalski’s statement is as follows:
Why would a joint resolution as important as this, just introduced 10 minutes ago, be left off the agenda, discharged to the floor with no committee hearings, and run all the way through General Orders and onto Third Reading in a total of 15 minutes? Are we that cavalier about our Constitution?The establishment of a two-thirds supermajority should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. It is a limit on the will of the majority. This two-thirds amendment to the Constitution would mean that majority rules on tax policy. I am appalled that my colleagues would take such drastic action in 15 minutes on a resolution whose ink isn’t even dry.

Senators Kahn and Cassis asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
This resolution does not arise de novo, isn’t like Athena bursting from the head of Zeus, though, hopefully, it has the same amount of knowledge. Why say that it doesn’t arise de novo? We’ve proposed it before in this body. There are 16 states that require supermajorities for tax issues, and clearly, we have had seared into our minds as well as into our people’s minds the issue of the service tax, its limitation, and I doubt that there is a person in this body who would like to revisit that.
I do understand the concern about timing. I would like to hear comments that reflect the value of the proposal—the value of reassurance to our people, the value of jobs, and the value of consideration before we raise the taxes that zap jobs from our people. That is missing from the comments that I have heard from my worthy colleagues who sit to my left. I would hope that they would bear that in mind that this resolution would pass, and failing that, it would not disappear, but rather receive hearings and then pass.

Senator Cassis’ statement is as follows:
Supermajorities are certainly not unheard of and, in fact, make it more certain that especially in regard to tax issues that our taxpayers—our constituents, that is—are heard loudly, clearly, and convincingly.

By unanimous consent the Senate returned to the order of

Statements

Senator Kahn asked and was granted unanimous consent to make a statement and moved that the statement be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
Well, we got 24 votes; needed 26. This is Tax Day. People are struggling in their homes to pay their bills, buy food, and wondering about a job. Their children are leaving the state angry. Sixteen other states have required supermajorities for the imposition of new taxes. We can continue to work on this. I am heartened by the bipartisan support that we achieved for this resolution; heartened that the Senator from the 19th District would support it; heartened that the Senator from the 6th District would support it and the Senator from the 31st District, my good friend.
The idea of responsible taxation is of our people’s concern about the activities that we had, if you can call it that—the bills we passed, unpassed, and twirled around. It warrants serious consideration of this measure. I look forward to discussing it with you again. Hopefully, I can get some of the fervor of the Senator from the 2nd District and bring this up for your consideration again and again and again until our people are responsibly heard on the issues of taxation and their jobs.

Senator Kahn, the primary sponsor of the resolution, made the following statements: “A super-majority requirement guarantees the Legislature will be more careful in its actions and will help limit the growth of government.  We must not burden our people with further taxes.  I am disappointed my colleagues failed to move this resolution, and encourage them all to do the right thing by passing it for our people.  Taxing services is not the way to solve our budget problems.  Over the past year, we heard loud and clear from residents and businesses that expanding taxes to services would severely hamper their ability to grow and would further harm our economy.”

Again, I think that this will pass when it’s reintroduced.

I’ll be going to the Isabella GOP meeting on Monday, so I might be able to get a quote from Representative Bill Caul on his views on the resolution.

I really hope that this passes, because it SHOULD be harder to raise taxes.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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