Opinion: Praising the virtues of passing special education millage, smoking ban. Questioning the logic of children hunting
Musings on the news of the past week:
No taxpayer revolt here. Not in Washtenaw County, anyway, on the issue of a special education millage renewal. We congratulate local educators for the strong, informative campaign they ran in favor of the renewal. But even more, we congratulate taxpayers for their show of support for crucial funding in support of programs that serve children with special needs. School districts didn’t even want to think about what the impact on their budgets would be if this request had been voted down. They had some $14 million in stake. But as election results came in last Tuesday night, their worries faded. Voters approved the renewal by a wide margin, 77 percent to 23 percent. In these difficult economic times, no millage request, even a renewal, is no sure thing. However, this area has a long history of supporting special education, and it is gratifying to see that continues to be the case. The request was a modest one that taxpayers already were paying, and they made it clear that they valued continued services to the most vulnerable part of the student population over a tiny savings on their tax bills. Good for them, and good for our schools.
If we made a list of all things that need to be reformed in the state of Michigan, the minimum hunting age for children wouldn’t be one of them. That’s why we’re more than a little mystified to see lawmakers in Lansing considering a proposal that would allow children of any age to hunt with a firearm. Current law allows a child between the age of 10 and 12 to receive an apprentice license and hunt with a firearm as long as he or she is accompanied by a licensed adult. That seems reasonable and appropriate to us. But Senate Bill 207 would eliminate the minimum age requirement in favor of a new “mentored’’ youth licensing program. We doubt there are many people in Michigan who would consider it a legislative priority to get 7-year-olds out in the woods with firearms, though there probably are some who could handle a weapon responsibly under the guidance of a parent. We’d say the Legislature ought to leave the age limit right where it is and turn its attention to the many, many more important issues it has before it right now.
Where there’s smoke - there’s a health risk. That’s why smoking was banned in Michigan restaurants and bars last year, and as we recently passed the one-year anniversary of the ban, public health experts continue to herald it as an important step forward. Kenneth Warner, a public health professor at the University of Michigan who has studied tobacco policy since the 1970s, told AnnArbor.com last week that it’s quite possible there’s “no general source of environmental pollution as dangerous to so many people’’ as second-hand smoke. While the ban has generally been well-received in Ann Arbor, the Michigan Restaurant Association continues to advocate against it, and would still like to see it repealed. It says it recently surveyed 300 of its members, and about 100 of them said the smoking ban has hurt their business. Tenuous as the economy continues to be, if some restaurants are seeing slower business, we question how much of that can be directly traced to a prohibition on smoking. The restaurant industry is welcome to continue to measure the impact of the smoking, but one year in, we continue to think it’s good public policy and see no cause to talk about repealing or revising it.