Editorials from around Pennsylvania: Voter ID – Just let it die

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Editorials from around Pennsylvania:

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VOTER ID – JUST LET IT DIE

Pennsylvania Republicans’ election-rigging attempt famously failed to deliver the Keystone State to Mitt Romney in 2012.

Since then, proponents of the voter ID law mostly have remained silent, almost as if they understand the cause is doomed — and rightly so.

Not state Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe, the Butler County Republican who sponsored the law, though.

His was one of the only voices lamenting a judge’s decision last week striking down the law as unconstitutional.

“An activist ruling by a partisan Democrat judge,” Metcalfe whined.

The fact that the law may impose a burden on voters who need an ID “doesn’t give you a reason to (disregard) the voice of the people,” he said.

Yes. It absolutely does.

That’s the whole point of checks and balances — to protect the people from blatant power grabs such as Metcalfe’s.

Even Gov. Tom Corbett’s response to Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley’s ruling was muted.

The governor declined to comment, and his attorney said they were mulling their options, which could include seeking a review by the full Commonwealth Court or an appeal directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Please spare us.

This is a steaming pile of a law that fails constitutionally upon even a cursory inspection.

The entire argument for voter ID – to protect the “integrity” of elections – was abandoned in the opening days of the inevitable court challenge, when the state’s lawyer stipulated he was “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud.”

That, by the way, is the only type of election fraud this law would prevent.

A judge in 2012 stayed the identification requirement of the law, which has never been fully implemented.

Unfortunately for House majority leader Mike Turzai, that came after his famous boast at a Republican State Committee meeting in the summer of 2012.

Speaking of his party’s accomplishments, he ticked off this one: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow (GOP presidential candidate) Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Turzai was wrong, of course, but we will always appreciate his candor.

This law has always been about suppressing the votes of Democratic-leaning voters. Nothing more; nothing less.

The governor should finally drop the matter and give Pennsylvania’s voter ID law the death it so obviously deserves.

- York Dispatch

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IT’S TIME FOR NATIONWIDE CONCEALED CARRY RECIPROCITY

The crazy quilt of concealed carry reciprocity laws among the states too easily snares law-abiding gun owners in needless confusion and possible legal hassles. Sen. John Cornyn has just the legislation to fix the mess.

“Each state decides which permits from other states it recognizes as lawful, and some recognize none,” reminds Emily Miller of The Washington Times. Mr. Cornyn’s Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would resolve that problematic situation by requiring all states to honor all other states’ concealed carry permits.

“It’s like a driver’s license,” says the Texas Republican. “It doesn’t trump state laws. Say you have a carry permit in Texas; then you use it in another state that has a concealed carry law.”

Cornyn’s bill would keep law-abiding permit holders from falling victim to what he calls the tendency of some states “to play ‘gotcha.’”

Ms. Miller cites the outrageous case of a Florida man held for three hours at a traffic stop while Maryland police searched his car – because records showed he had a concealed carry permit. He didn’t have a gun with him and wasn’t even cited for a traffic violation.

And why should a traveler going from, say, Pennsylvania to North Carolina via Ohio be forced to secure that weapon in a different fashion in the Buckeye State?

With all 50 states now allowing concealed carry – Illinois, forced last year by federal courts, was the last to do so – this is an ideal time to bring full reciprocity to America’s concealed carry laws.

- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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LAWS CRIMINALIZING CALLS TO POLICE ABSURD

About 25 municipal governments around Pennsylvania have laws on their books that put some residents in the position of losing their homes if they call police.

That sounds ridiculous because it is. But, fortunately, the state Legislature has begun to restore state citizens’ right to call the cops without fear of draconian penalties.

Many local governments have “nuisance” laws under which they can take action against bars that repeatedly disrupt neighborhoods, or where police must make frequent appearances.

Some governments have adopted ordinances applying that idea to residences. Norristown, for example, had an ordinance by which a landlord could evict a tenant who called for police assistance three times in four months.

Norristown resident Lakisha Briggs called police twice early in 2012 to complain of alleged domestic abuse by her ex-boyfriend. When in June 2012 he reappeared, Briggs contends in a lawsuit, she did not call police for fear of being evicted from her apartment. She was slashed and stabbed with a piece of broken glass.

Local ordinances should not endanger residents by penalizing them for calling police. Norristown since has repealed its ordinance and replaced it with one that establishes a scale of escalating fines against landlords if their properties repeatedly are scenes of violence.

Last week, the state House passed a law outlawing ordinances like the original Norristown ordinance, which remain on the books in some Pennsylvania communities.

The Senate quickly should follow suit to reassure all Pennsylvanians that they can’t be penalized for pursuing their own safety and justice.

- (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker

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‘DUCK DYNASTY’ SPEAKER ISN’T IN SAME LEAGUE

Two former presidents, a former vice president and a member of the president’s Cabinet. The mayor who kept the nation calm after 9/11 and the future prime minister of Israel. A famed Supreme Court nominee and two business superstars. The list of keynote speakers for the Manufacturer & Business Association’s annual meeting is long and illustrious.

The association’s annual event sells out no matter where it is held — at the Erie Shrine Club, where George H.W. Bush spoke in 2004; at Tullio Arena (now Erie Insurance Arena), where former Defense Secretary Colin Powell headlined the association’s 100th anniversary event in 2005; and at the Bayfront Convention Center, where George W. Bush spoke in 2009 and Dick Cheney spoke in 2010.

Tom Ridge spoke twice, in 1995 and in 2001 when he was Pennsylvania governor. Political strategist James Carville, a Democrat, was paired with John Sununu, a Republican who served as chief of staff for George H.W. Bush, in 1993. Carville and his wife, Mary Matalin, a Republican adviser, faced off and entertained the crowds in 2007. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in 2002, shortly before he became Israeli prime minister for the second time, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke in 2003.

Robert Bork was here in 1988, a year after the U.S. Senate rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric Corp., was the keynoter in 2011. Carly Fiorina, the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company, Hewlett-Packard, headlined the event in 2013.

We list the previous speakers to provide context for the speaker chosen for the 2014 Manufacturer & Business Association meeting: Willie Robertson, co-star of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.” Tammy Polanski said the association was “thrilled” to land Robertson because he heads “one of the most successful family-owned businesses in operation in America today.” The announcement about Robertson came shortly after his father, Phil Robertson, generated massive publicity for the show with his controversial comments about gays and African Americans in an interview in GQ magazine.

The elder Robertson’s views aren’t the issue. Rather, the choice of Robertson says that today’s audiences are more interested in being entertained by a reality TV star than hearing about substantive issues related to manufacturing in Erie. We wonder, for example, what Russell Stokes, the new chief executive of GE Transportation, might have said to association members. Speaking to the Erie Times-News Editorial Board, Stokes, the son, grandson and nephew of GM workers, described his childhood in Cleveland, his passion for trains, and his desire to encourage young people and GE employees to succeed. “You could be whatever you want, but you’ve got to reach for your dreams and believe in your potential,” he said. Must Erie business leaders wait for a reality show to hear this inspiring story?

- Erie Times-News

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N.J., Pa. SHOULD EXPAND CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR CHILD CARE

Child-care laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey require criminal background checks for the people who work in day care centers, but they fall short of checking the criminal histories of all adults in home-based child-care programs.

Legislators in both states are attempting to close this loophole, and it’s a worthwhile effort. We believe that family-type providers – those in neighborhood homes that oversee three or fewer kids – are invaluable to working parents, and shouldn’t be burdened with all the regulatory requirements of larger facilities. But background checks are another matter.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, is sponsoring a bill to require criminal and child-abuse record checks for all those over 18 living in family day care homes.

Among those supporting the change is Jane Ervin, executive director of Community Services for Children of Allentown, who says children have been harmed by persons living in homes who weren’t subject to background checks. The inquiries, which cost about $20 apiece, shouldn’t be a hindrance to small providers.

In New Jersey, small family day care operations are not required to register with the state. Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a non-profit group, is recommending that all in-home providers be required to register and submit to criminal background checks. It also is asking the state to post child care center inspection reports online.

State laws vary widely on background checks, and it isn’t just a matter of bringing home care into the loop. Child Care Aware of America, for example, notes that 38 states require child care operators to check employees against a child abuse and neglect registry. Twenty-four states conduct a state fingerprint check. Only 18 states require checking against a sex offender registry.

Different degrees of fact-checking result in different levels of security – a disparity that U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has proposed to eliminate with federal standards for background checks. Casey is urging Congress include this reform in a reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides funds to states to assist with child-care costs of working families.

Bringing all states up to modern law-enforcement standards for child care makes sense, and it needn’t be a budget-buster. A majority of states have tapped into technology that already exists to track those who – because of serious criminal offenses, including child abuse – shouldn’t be working with or around kids.

- The (Easton) Express-Times

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