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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Judge Halts State’s Flavored Vaping Ban

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A Michigan Court of Claims judge says the state ban on flavored vaping products must be lifted. That’s while underlying litigation opposing the ban plays out in court.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration issued emergency rules in September. The Department of Health and Human Services says youth vaping is a public health crisis.

But vaping shops across the state said the ban would cause them to have to shut down. And they said it would harm their customers – who use vaping to stop cigarette smoking.

For now, the court is on the side of the shops and consumers. The judge said in her order and opinion that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to the shops. The court also said that the state’s reasons for the emergency declaration, “have fallen short.”

Andrea Bitely is a spokeswoman for Defend MI Rights. That’s a coalition of businesses and advocates opposing the ban. She said the group hopes the state can find a better solution than a ban, and instead a compromise, “allowing adults to make choices for themselves and keeping these products out of the hands of kids.”

But Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the decision is wrong, and they will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“It misreads the law and sets a dangerous precedent of a court second-guessing the expert judgment of public health officials dealing with a crisis,” Whiter said in a written statement. “The explosive increase in youth vaping is a public health emergency, and we must do everything we can to protect our kids from its harmful effects.”

There is also an ongoing federal lawsuit opposing the ban.

If the ban is upheld by the court, retailers that violate the emergency rules could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face no more than six months in jail or a fine of up to 200 dollars, or both. The ban would be in effect for 180 days, but it could be extended for another six months.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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