Do more on anti-smoking
The best argument in favor of strengthening Indiana’s anti-smoking efforts may be the most recent numbers on teen smoking.
Protecting public health by increasing the incentive to keep Hoosiers from lighting up ought to be a priority.
Although teen smoking has declined, more than 3 million high school students and 600,000 middle school students still smoke cigarettes.
While numbers have declined in recent years nationwide, the drop-off has slowed.
In Indiana, the decline in smoking among high school youth from 2000 to 2010 was 45 percent; among middle school students during the same period, the drop was even greater, 56 percent. By high school, however, our young people smoke at a rate that outpaces the national average.
From the South Bend Tribune
Predators and social media
Since judges had already tossed similar laws in Nebraska and Louisiana, members of American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana must have felt pretty good about their chances of getting this state’s ban on sex-offender access to Facebook and other social media thrown out. But federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt didn’t follow the pattern. In an 18-page order issued Friday, she said the state has a strong interest in protecting children and that the rest of the Internet remains open to those who must register as sex offenders.
“The Court concedes that social networking is a prominent feature of modern-day society,” she wrote. “However, communication does not begin with a Facebook wall post and end with a 140-character Tweet.” That may understate the important role the social media have to play in our lives, but not by much.
Federalism is still a muddle
If you’re trying to determine what effect the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law will have on Indiana’s similar legislation, good luck.
Indianapolis immigration attorney Steven Tuchman says our law is “toast. From what I read the Indiana law is not going to survive.” But state Sen. Mike Delph, an architect of Indiana’s law, says he remains confident that “much if not most of our law is legally permissible under this decision.” Attorney General Greg Zoeller is analyzing the ruling.
Good luck, too, if you’d like to know where the ruling leaves the federal-state relationship in the current hash our leaders have made of federalism. Can you say “mixed message”? The court threw out most provisions of the Arizona law as infringements on federal prerogatives. But it upheld the central “Show us your papers” provision.
College really is not for all
It might have seemed like an inappropriate remark coming from someone about to be named president of a major university, but Gov. Mitch Daniels broached an important topic last week when he observed that not every student should aim for the traditional college education.
“There are more Americans today with college debt than with college diplomas,” he said. “So there are an awful lot of people saying that, as important as it is, the way it is may need some changes.”
Student debt in the United States topped $1 trillion last year, according to an estimate by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That has created a “high education bubble” that is in danger of bursting. A hot debate over what to do about it in education circles, and Daniels isn’t the only one calling for new approaches to college.
How much is too much power?
The U.S. Constitution was crafted by people who greatly feared central power, so that document gave great latitude to states and strictly limited the federal government to a few, specifically enumerated powers. But the relationship started changing almost immediately after ratification, and the federal government has been getting stronger at the expense of states ever since. Is there anything the federal government can’t do or make us do?
That concern is why the individual mandate – that Americans must carry health insurance or pay a fine – has been the central question of the Obamacare debate. If Congress can order us to buy something – eat your broccoli, children; it’s a government rule – it can truly make us do anything. So, now that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare, how does that change the federalism equation?