- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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March 30

The Montgomery Advertiser on child care center regulations:

Alabama is one of only .

Here we go again, writing a sentence that begins with that ever-familiar phrase.

It happens too often: Alabama being one of the lone states to stand nearly alone. So let’s do it again, shall we?

Alabama is one of only seven states that allows wide ranging exemptions for child care centers so they operate without regulation or inspection.

There’s legislation to broaden the oversight of child care facilities, limiting the exemptions.

The bill applies minimal standards like employee background checks, which make sense. You do not want people with known criminal histories, including pedophiles to be watching your children. A reasonable caregiver to child ratio must be met. If you have ever watched children for a day you quickly realize a good ratio of staff to child just makes sense.

It requires employees have CPR training and the day care show proof they are trained. Wouldn’t you want your child care provider to know CPR? Health inspections will occur so that we don’t have another incident where 30 children from a local day care end up at a hospital with Staph like what happened after the Sunny Side Day Care incident in 2015.

While there is broad support for the legislation called the Child Care Safety Act, there is also resistance.

Resistance? To providing basic safeguards in facilities protecting and caring for children while their parents are working.

Words too many of us throw around to stop rational legislation keep popping up when talking about the act: regulation, government oversight and religious freedom.

Even when it comes to levelheaded commonsense such as protecting children with basic health and safety regulations or annual unannounced inspections of a day care, we still find resistance.

Exempt day care providers - most of which are religious affiliated facilities - are encouraged but not required to follow the Department of Human Resources’ standards. Nearly half of center-based child care and nearly a third of all child care in Alabama are unregulated and uninspected, according to Voices for Alabama’s Children, which supports the legislation. In Montgomery County, 80 of 215 child care facilities (37 percent) were exempt from licensure and inspection in July 2016.

In mid-March, Rep. Pebblin Warren, a sponsor of the bill, spoke on the House floor about the bill, pulling it after a 20-minute speech on its importance and the loopholes the current law has for day cares screened from oversight.

Churches that don’t want to be regulated and licensed pushed back, so Warren pulled the bill from a vote that day, legislators - including Warren - told Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman.

The bill, according to its advocates, protects religious freedoms and the bill’s sixth paragraph states, “the licensing of a faith-based child care facility may not be construed to infringe upon the rights of the facility to teach or practice a religion.”

We have recommended this before: All sites must be inspected

What the bill will do is require all facilities to have specific staff-to-child ratios, cleanliness standards, training and criminal background checks.

What it will do is protect for our children.

What legislators should do is pass the bill.

Online:

https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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April 2

The Tuscaloosa News on sporting events and guns:

Not everyone who attends a college football game gets drunk, but anyone who has attended a game knows there are more than a few who have overindulged.

Not everyone who attends a college football game has an underdeveloped emotional maturity level that causes them to place too much of his or her self-worth upon the decisions others might make in a high-pressure situation. But anyone who has attended a football game knows there are many of those folks in the stands, and they’re often unhinged. If you’re an Alabama fan and happened to witness the initial moments after the “Kick Six” in 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium or the “Camback” in 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, you know there were several around you with more than a little frustration.

Regardless of where you stand on the right to bear arms, all it takes is a little common sense to determine that it would be a very bad idea to add guns to this mix.

But that debate is happening. And it is ridiculous. Some, such as state Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, want to do away with so-called “gun free zones” such as college campuses. The argument is that mass shootings are more likely when someone with bad intentions knows he is likely to be the only one armed. Butler thinks everyone would be safer if law-abiding citizens could carry concealed weapons.

There are many who agree with Butler. But that is an argument for another day. We’re specifically talking about college sporting events. And anyone who has attended a college football game also knows there is no absence of police presence at these events.

Should a mass shooter manage to get a firearm into a stadium, the last thing we would want would be dozens of nearby fans pulling their own weapons and trying to take down the bad guy in a crowd. Collateral damage would likely be the result. In that event, it could also be difficult for those who are trained law enforcement officials to determine who the bad guy actually is. Butler’s line of reasoning breaks down quickly, in that scenario.

Arkansas lawmakers passed a bill last month allowing guns in many public places, including collegiate athletic events. The new law in Arkansas allows concealed carry permit holders who undergo up to eight hours of extra training to take their guns onto public college campuses.

The University of Alabama released a statement Thursday reiterating its opposition to weapons being allowed inside athletic venues and on campus.

“At the University of Alabama, we take seriously the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans. We believe allowing weapons inside athletic venues would increase safety concerns,” UA officials said in the statement.

Of course, what the UA officials had to say was not surprising. What was surprising was that they had to say it at all.

Online:

https://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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April 3

The Dothan Eagle on Gov. Bentley’s possible impeachment:

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is circling the wagons against the possibility that impeachment proceedings in the Legislature will be reinvigorated by the content of an Ethics Commission report due to be released this week.

The governor’s attorney expressed an objection to the potential timeline last week, saying the governor would be denied due process and that removing the governor would overturn the will of the voters who elected him.

Due process is an important concern, and should be painstakingly provided.

As for the will of the voters, any impeachable act would disqualify their chosen candidate from service.

This case is about the people of Alabama, and the sort of government the people deserve. The most recent past has been tremendously embarrassing for the people of Alabama, who have cringed as they watched the leadership of all three branches of our government fall to scandal - House Speaker Mike Hubbard convicted of a raft of ethics charges; Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended from his post indefinitely, effectively removed from office a second time; and Gov. Bentley, whose romantic scandal with an advisor has rendered him almost powerless and generated investigations from the Attorney General’s office, the House Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Commission.

On Monday, members of the Wiregrass legislative delegation, speaking to members of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, reminded us that any approach to impeachment must be watertight, with specific and substantial evidence of impeachable offense - “not because of running around with a girlfriend or whatever,” said Rep. Paul Lee.

Our local lawmakers are right; the governor has embarrassed himself, his family, and the people of Alabama through this lingering scandal. Whether he violated the law or his oath of office remains to be seen, and will be dealt with accordingly when and if the time comes.

Online:

https://www.dothaneagle.com

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