ST. PAUL -- Several northern Minnesota lawmakers oppose a proposed statewide ban of smoking in all public buildings.
The legislators think the ban overreaches the powers of state government.
"A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work," Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm said. "Different communities have different needs."
Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook agreed, "I think that bans are a local issue that should be decided at a local level. The state shouldn't decide something like this."
"I have never voted for a bill with a smoking ban," Rep. Irv Anderson, DFL-International Falls, said. He said he wouldn't vote for a future ban either. He doesn't think a statewide smoking ban would have enough support to pass the House.
Just after he listened to a discussion about a possible statewide ban on Minnesota Public Radio, Sen. Paul Koering, R-Brainerd, said his initial reaction was, "It's government overreach. It's one more instance where people in government are intruding into private business. It's a pretty far stretch, the government is crossing the line."
He added that he wants to do more research on the issue. "I am going to be gathering all of the information I can and weigh the best decision."
However, Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown supports the ban, "I think that workplaces should be smoke free."
She said the ban would protect workers, and added, "I don't like smoking."
Sertich applauded the Legislature for discussing the issue, but said it's not as cut and dry as supporters say. He said that local businesses should be able to decide what happens in their establishments; choice is up to customers.
"If I am at a place that is too smoky, I leave," said Sertich, a nonsmoker.
Koering echoed Sertich's remarks, "You have a choice of whether or not to go there (a smoky business)."
Sertich supported Duluth's approach to creating a local ban.
"They have been working on this for three to four years," he said. "I applaud the way that Duluth has approached the issue. They continue to work hard to compromise and find a sensible solution that fits their individual community."
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