Business Community Protests Michigan’s Over-reach on Regulations

I have written on this before.

Typically there is a brief resistance to oppression, then an eventual surrender.  In this case, one of our State Representatives is holding the line.

A group of prominent businessmen announced today the hosting of the Tom McMillin “CigarFest” for State Representative Tom McMillin, who is running for State Senate in the 13th District. The event will be held at Godfather’s Cigar and Martini Lounge in Rochester on the evening of December 4th.

Although nominally a protest over the smoking ban, the McMillin backers argue the issue is one of private property rights and personal freedom. The smoking ban, passed in 2009, bans smoking in all restaurants, bars and even private clubs, both inside and also outside if food and drink are served. Exceptions to the ban were given to casinos, where smoking is allowed on the gaming floor. Also, exceptions have been given to cigar bars. Supposedly, the purpose of the ban is to protect employee health from second-hand smoke.

Many in the business community see the ban as blatant over-regulation and usurping the rights of business owners to make their own rules for their properties. Others question the ban on outdoor smoking, as employee contact with second-hand smoke is minimal. Local shopping center developer John Liadis commented, “It makes no sense to ban outdoor smoking, especially when the casinos are allowed to do it indoors. The employee health argument is hollow. You either protect them or you don’t. And frankly many of the employees in bars and restaurants smoke themselves.”

Immediate Past Chairperson of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Rod Lockwood added, “The legislators who passed this smoking ban do not recognize the signal they are sending to small and mid-size business owners. These people are creating all the new jobs. They run into regulations constantly and are looking for business climates with few regulations. Many of them see Michigan as regulation-happy with the smoking ban serving as another example. They sympathize with the restaurant or bar owner trying his or her best to create a customer-friendly environment, using their best judgment. Government- get out of the way!”

McMillin voted against the ban in 2009 and recently has responded to the business community by introducing HB5159, along with 12 other co-sponsors, both Republican and Democrats, which would amend the smoking ban to allow outdoor patio smoking. The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform for review.

“Most people don’t realize how many business deals get done over a drink and a cigar,” banking consultant Joe Michael added. “It’s especially true with privately owned businesses. I really don’t know why the state is interfering with what free people want to do. Let the restaurant or bar owner set the rules.”

Renowned cigar “sommelier” Anna D. will be hosting the CigarFest, lending her expertise to guide the guests in their sampling of the offering of fine cigars.

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