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Has Government Gone Too Far? 

Two dozen states have enacted bans on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants.Maine is among those states.This year, smoking in a car carrying children became illegal in Maine.Some feel the law crosses the line…while others think it’s the right thing to do.Central Maine bureau chief Adrienne Bennett has been looking into “Maine, the way life should be, but is government going to far?”Tonight, we begin by sampling public opinion on laws that affect what we can, and can’t, do.”I think they’ve stepped over a line like smoking cigarettes for example. It’s bogus.” “They’re so quick to tell you what you can’t do.” “A lot of government is going to ruin how this country was built.””They are meddling in people’s lives they shouldn’t be.”Opinions, everyone’s got one, and when it comes to government many are quick to criticize…Many smokers will tell you it’s their right to smoke – wherever and whenever they want. But bans on smoking have been in place for decades – The first one was in Minnesota – where lawmakers enacted the Clean Indoor Air Act in 1975 – It snuffed out smoking in nearly all indoor areas…Today, there are 24 states that don’t let you light up somewhere.So, why is it still a subject of contention? Sandy Maisel: “secondhand smoke is dangerous to peoples health so we have said you can’t smoke in certain places – Is it a logical extension to say from that that a person can’t smoke in their own car with their own children present? I don’t know, I don’t smoke and if I did I wouldn’t smoke around children, but do I think the government should be imposing that, I’m not too sure about that.Sandy Maisel is a Professor of Government and Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby.Sandy Maisel: “there is a line that the government should not cross, but it’s up to the people to say where that line is.”As Maine citizens the right to contest any new law may be exercised by following the process to initiate a People’s veto.A step that has not been taken to repeal any of Maine’s smoking bans.So, what is the role of government? Sandy Maisel: “I think everyone would accept the definition of government is to protect American citizens. Then you go beyond that it’s whether or not it’s to ensure the welfare of the American citizens, ensure prosperity of American citizens and how far the government should go in doing these things.” Prior to the Great Depression the government wasn’t thought to have much of a role in the economy, but society changed, Sandy Maisel: “at the time of the depression it became very clear that the economy in the society was so big that citizens couldn’t in fact get by necessarily without some government intervention.” and intervention continues…today’s great recession led to the billion dollar bailout of automakers – and while the health care debate continues…Maisel argues it’s all fuel being added to a fire that’s been burning for decades…Sandy Maisel: “I don’t view that as government getting involved in health care. On the other hand, saying the government is getting involved in health care and saying what the government could be is all ways of fueling a debate on a issue of government intervention.”So while there is a line that can be crossed – as far as government going too far, just where that line is depends upon who you ask.Tomorrow night i’ll take a closer look into the government’s role when it comes to security in our nation and here in Maine.The real id debate continues as I ask the question does identity equal security?