Thursday, March 6, 2008

More smoke and mirrors

Apparently, state Republicans and Democrats have plenty of time to engage in public dick waving matches, but no time to schedule a vote on the proposed smoking ban legislation.

The Republicans involved also apparently don't see any irony in the fact that, when it comes to voter ID laws, they cry for immediate voting. Bring up the smoking ban, though, and it's voting be damned.

I've written about the ban controversy several times already, including Roger Breske's baffling insistence that secondhand smoke doesn't have any harmful effects. Now Senate leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) and Assembly leader Mike Huebsh (R-West Salem) are dragging their collective heals about even scheduling a vote on the bills (SB-150 and AB-834) in the Senate and the Assembly.

The current legislative session ends on March 13. After that, who knows how long it will be before they get back around to this.

Presumably, they're miffed that their heavily edited and bastardized version of the bill met with (deserved) rejection by anti-smoking groups just last month.

Still, this kind of behavior is pretty shameful. Regardless of how they end up voting on the matter, it's only right to allow for the vote to take place. All of this ducking and weaving is making me feel nauseated.

As a side note, I was in Chicago this week for a show, and it was amazingly refreshing to be able to enjoy the music and the scene without my eyes watering, my throat burning, and my clothes smelling like ass. I'd love to be able to do that all over the state of Wisconsin, too, and not just in Madison.


jen x said...

Here's the weird thing: I don't remember this much Sturm und Drang when NYC decided to pass its smoking ban. I was smoker then so I wasn't exactly jumping up and down with joy. But people seemed to realize it was the reasonable thing to do and that, yeah, it was probably time we quit. Or at least went outside so we weren't blowing smoke all over everyone else. New York, Chicago -- Paris, for goodness sakes -- most cities of any size are moving in this direction. I don't get why it's such an uphill battle here.

Al said...

Here's the operative word in the above comment: "most cities of any size." Although there is some resistance from Milwaukee, it's mostly from rural areas.

And secondly, what the anti-smoking groups should have realized is that it's not a choice between a bill that starts in 2010 and one that starts one or two years later. It's a choice between the one that starts later, or starting over from scratch next session. Period. Personally, I'd rather have it in the bag, even if it has to wait a while, than start from scratch in Jan. 2009.

Emily said...

AL - While I'm inclined to agree with you, there's one big fat problem that I have with Decker's proposal that's not the implementation date:

In a news release Thursday, Decker noted that the League of Municipalities, Wisconsin Towns Association and Wisconsin Alliance of Cities are now on board with his proposal to push back a ban on smoking in taverns and restaurants until July 1, 2011. Workplaces and restaurants that do not sell alcohol would have to ban smoking by June 1, 2009.

Smoke-free advocates, including Gov. Jim Doyle, wanted a comprehensive ban on smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants, this year, but are now backing Assembly and Senate bills with implementation dates of 2009. The League of Municipalities last spring backed the Senate proposal, but this week voted to support Decker's proposal, which would also prevent any municipality from enacting its own smoke-free laws during the approximate three years until the statewide ban is implemented.

Decker and co. not only want to push back the ban by a couple of years, but they want to take away a community's right to implement a ban on their own in that time. That's pretty shitty.

The Lost Albatross