Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 29, 2006

Weekly wrap - Monday, Jan. 30, 2006

On sex offender registry:

Hoosiers finally have a user-friendly, easy-to-access method of determining whether any convicted sex offenders live in their neighborhoods with the launch of the newest version of an online registry.

The sexual offenders registry now allows parents and others to select a city, ZIP code or address and see a map of the area that displays the location of the homes and, in some cases, workplaces of convicted sex offenders. When the computer user puts the cursor on the location of an offender, a box pops up displaying the photo, name, address, age, height and weight of the offender.

This has been a long time coming. The sex offender registry dates to 1994. The legislature expanded the law in 2002 to require sheriffs to post offender’s names, photos and addresses on the Web site. But the site required users to search by the offender’s name or street name, a long and frustrating process for any city residents living in dense neighborhoods with numerous streets.

With Monday’s launch of the new Web site, state officials have finally fulfilled the legislature’s goal of making it relatively simple to see where molesters and other sex offenders live in any given neighborhood.

– The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne

On confirmation of Samuel Alito:

His legal qualifications have never been seriously questioned. His judicial temperament is sound. His ethics, after thorough investigation by political enemies and supporters alike, are admirable.

Samuel Alito is far from an extremist, as his more partisan detractors have asserted. He’s served well for 15 years as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s readily qualified to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

So why is Alito expected to get only a bare majority on the Senate floor?

The courts in recent decades have become something of a super-legislature, asked to resolve sensitive questions better left for elected leaders to decide. Abortion. Gay marriage. Public expressions of religion. If one side or the other on such hot-button issues can’t win through the electoral process, it turns to the courts, hoping to push through agendas with the help of friendly judges.

Because the stakes have become so high, special-interest groups, and the elected leaders who do their bidding, have trashed nominees whose only true guilt was holding the “wrong” legal and philosophical views.

In Alito’s case, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee knowingly distorted his record and trashed his reputation. It was a shameful display that should draw a rebuke from any fair-minded American.

– The Indianapolis Star

On full-day kindergarten:

A proposal toward full-day kindergarten for all students in Indiana appears to be in good shape because it’s backed by Republicans in both the House and the Senate. That’s the party that controls both houses of the Legislature, of course, as well as the governor’s office.

When full-day kindergarten comes to pass in this state, don’t forget that this was an idea championed by Gov. Frank O’Bannon as his top legislative priority of 1999. Then it was championed by Gov. Joe Kernan as his top legislative priority in 2004. Both are Democrats, and neither had the votes in the General Assembly to get their legislation passed.

This year’s GOP idea would fund full-day kindergarten with tax credits for 7,000 needy students in the state. The bill’s author, Rep. Robert Behning of Indianapolis, said he anticipates a much broader Republican-backed full-day kindergarten bill next year.

This has been a good idea for Indiana’s children since Gov. O’Bannon started pushing it seven years ago. It’s about time it is adopted.

– The Herald-Times, Bloomington

On U.S. Rep. John Shadegg:

Anyone ever heard of Rep. John Shadegg? Mike Pence has.

Shadegg, an Arizona Republican, formally occupied the chair Pence now fills as chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee. And it is a measure of the respect and credibility that Pence and the 100-member RSC have gained that the Hoosier Republican has managed to heighten the intrigue over the future of House leadership with his public endorsement of the longshot Shadegg.

Pence seems to understand that his party needs a bit of mid-course correction. By endorsing Shadegg, Pence proclaims, “We need leadership with the energy and vision to steer this Congress back to our roots of fiscal discipline, limited government and traditional values.”

Even if the next majority leader does not come out of the fiscally conservative ranks of the RSC, the betting here is that the emerging victor is going to echo some of those sentiments. That will represent a victory for Pence and his fellow RSC members. If it results in a more fiscally restrained Congress, it can be a victory for all Americans.

– Palladium-Item, Richmond