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Editorial: Opinion roundup (June 27,2014)

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U.S. must fix broken immigration system

South Bend Tribune

Those looking to the nation’s capital for much-needed action on immigration reform may be developing a serious case of whiplash.

Just within the past six months, the signs have veered between hopeful and hopeless. In February, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before the fall elections. A few months later, there was talk of reform — not in one grand measure, but by piecemeal legislation. In a visit with the Editorial Board last month, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, expressed confidence that this was the way reform could and would be accomplished before the November elections.


In the past week, Beltway wisdom has again changed, with some pundits declaring that the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has ended all hope of immigration reform. Of course, these same pundits never saw Cantor’s defeat coming.

Amid the shifting winds in Congress, here’s one thing that hasn’t changed: This country’s immigration system desperately needs a comprehensive overhaul.

As we’ve often said, this is a job for the federal government, not the states. So it’s past time for Congress to get to work and fix a broken system.

New law helps punishment better fit crime

News and Tribune (Jeffersonville)

Are you thinking about stealing a candy bar, pencil or pack of cigarettes?

If so, it’s probably best to wait until July 1.

That’s because Indiana has finally wised up and made a long overdue change to how it classifies certain theft offenses.

For years, someone caught shoplifting a pack of gum has potentially faced the same charge as a person who stole a car. Indiana classified those crimes as class D felonies, punishable by up to three years in prison.

Starting July 1, a provision in Indiana law drops felony theft to a misdemeanor if the stolen goods are valued at less than $750.

It’s about time that change was made to the amount of time someone charged with relatively minor theft can do in jail. Correctional facilities are overcrowded.

This week, retailers announced their displeasure with the change, unhappy with the $750 threshold which will take effect July 1. Stealing $749 out of someone’s wallet or purse is significant, as is stealing the same amount of jewelry from a store or taking an iPad or iPhone from a retailer.

If a crime is committed, the state should do the best job it can in making the punishment fit that crime, and this change to the criminal code was a step in that direction for Indiana.

Dozing trucker wake-up call to Congress     

New Britain (Connecticut) Herald

At the same time that Congress is considering whether to relax work rules for freight haulers, a truck driver’s lack of sleep is being blamed for the highway crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed Connecticut resident James “Jimmy Mack” McNair.

Wal-Mart trucker Kevin Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead on the New Jersey Turnpike and then swerved to avoid a crash.

Instead, his rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus, killing comedian McNair and injuring Morgan and three others.

Authorities said that Roper hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours before the accident.

This comes at a time when a proposed change to federal regulations would effectively let drivers put in as many as 82 hours a week behind the wheel.

An amendment that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins,   R-Maine, would repeal a requirement that drivers take a 34-hour break, including no driving from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on two consecutive days.

The senator and trucking industry officials also said it is safer for truckers to drive at night when there is less traffic.

‌With measles on rise, get vaccinated

The Daily Reflector (Greenville, South Carolina)

A disease once on its way to oblivion apparently is on the rise — and headed this way, say health officials locally and nationwide. So forget rumors you might have heard about vaccinations and make sure you and your children have had one.

That’s the message coming from health officials about a resurgence in cases of measles nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that measles has reached a 20-year high, and a big reason for the increase is a decrease in the number of people being vaccinated, especially children.

Pitt County (North Carolina) Health Director John Morrow told The Daily Reflector that with measles’ virtual disappearance in years past, parents today are not aware of its potentially terrible effects.

That’s one reason they might not worry much about making sure their children receive the vaccine that would protect them.

There have been 16 outbreaks producing 397 cases of the highly contagious respiratory disease in 20 states since 1996. So vigilance and awareness are in order to head it off, and it’s certainly not too soon to vaccinate any who need protection from this unwanted visitor from the past.

Let’s just hope it’s not too late.

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