January 19, 2007
WORTH NOTING: A New Sin Tax, Iraq Snafus rankle Govs
By Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writer
An extramarital affair could land philandering spouses in Michigan behind bars for life. That, at least, is the word from Michigan's second highest state court, Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson reports. Dickerson says the ruling stems from an obscure provision of Michigan law, which decrees that a person is guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct whenever "sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony." Michigan's criminal code still defines adultery as a felony, even though no one has been prosecuted for it since 1971.
Does using a cell phone while driving pose a safety hazard? Colorado soon may have hard facts to answer that question. The Rocky Mountain News reports Colorado state troopers now are asking motorists involved in fatal, serious injury and even fender-bender crashes whether a cell phone was in use at the time of the accident. Distractions of various kinds, including conversing on a cell phone, cause 23 percent of all vehicle crashes, national studies have shown.
Half of the new members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are leasing cars at taxpayers' expense, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The lawmakers say the leases - which range from $244 to $588 a month - are cheaper than being reimbursed for the miles they drive. "People may raise their eyebrows over this," Rep. Rick Taylor (D) told the Inquirer . "But I look at this as a way to discharge my duties." A voter revolt over legislative pay raises swept in the new - and especially large - freshman class.
Some New Jersey National Guard troops will stay four months longer in Iraq than they expected, but they were the last to know it. According to the Newark Star-Ledger , families of the 159 Guard members complained to Gov. Jon Corzine (D) that they were told of the extension, while their loved ones in Iraq weren't. The newspaper said an angry Corzine confronted the Pentagon, which blamed the snafu - a military acronym which means "Situation Normal - All (Fouled) Up" - on a "breakdown in the chain of command." The same breakdown occurred with National Guard troops in Iowa and Minnesota . The bad news has since been passed; even the boots on the ground are now in the loop.
Speaking of Iraq, President George W. Bush's plan to send thousands of additional troops to the war zone is drawing bipartisan criticism from some governors. In his farewell address , Iowa Democrat Tom Vilsack, who is considering a bid for the White House, roundly criticized Bush's policy. At least two of Bush's fellow Republicans - Govs. C.L. "Butch" Otter of Idaho and James Douglas of Vermont - are also skeptical. The Vermont governor told his weekly news conference Bush's plan "doesn't seem to make sense," according to the Rutland Herald . "I'm not persuaded that it will lead to a successful exit strategy," Douglas was quoted as saying.
Looking ahead: San Francisco next month will become the first city in the country to require employers to offer paid sick leave to workers. As Stateline.org has reported (" Sick leave tops state labor agendas ," Jan. 4), legislators in at least seven states are pushing similar measures. South Dakota lawmakers got the go ahead from the state's high court to launch disciplinary proceedings against a senator accused of groping a teenage page last year.