July 12, 2014 at 1:00 am


Relief for religious college

The Supreme Court rightly gave an emergency and temporary relief to Illinois-based Wheaton College earlier this month. The injunction bars enforcement of the contraception mandate in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Wheaton is a Christian college, and the court has temporarily recognized its right to carry out its religious mission, without IRS fines, for refusing to cover contraceptives that can also work as an abortifacients.

Wheaton argues the health care law subjects its religious institution to a “substantial burden from government,” and that the Obama administration’s exception for “religious nonprofits” is too narrow.

Rather than filling out government forms as a religious nonprofit, Wheaton filed suit, invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That same law was previously at issue in the Hobby Lobby case decided at the end of June.

Despite Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s lengthy dissent on the ruling, it remains while Wheaton’s case is heard in court.

Help for human trafficking victims

The state Legislature has attacked the growing human trafficking problem with a number of bills over the past year that help law enforcement agencies fight the crime.

But more work by lawmakers is needed.

Angela Aufdemberg, CEO of Vista Maria, a group active in fighting human trafficking, says pending legislation includes laws that focus on the victims.

One bill would designate all youths younger than 18 as victims so they would not be prosecuted, usually as prostitutes.

Other legislation would erase any past prostitution convictions and exempt them from the sex offender’s list. Another bill would provide mental health services to victims.

Shutting down the massive human trafficking operations is good but the crackdown shouldn’t forget about the victims.

Lawmakers, when they return to Lansing in September, need to put a priority on laws that focus on helping the young victims as well as attacking the crime.

EM best bet for Lincoln Park

With the lack of action by the Lincoln Park City Council, the naming of Brad Coulter as the municipality’s emergency manager is the best alternative for fixing its financial problems.

The City Council in May rejected a state consent agreement that would have given the city more control in creating a deficit reduction plan, including the ability to restructure government, terminate union contracts and honor debt obligations.

Officials have opted to let the state do it.

The city has had a general fund deficit the past two fiscal years that totals about $1.2 million because revenue from property taxes and state revenue sharing have plummeted.

A state review team, upon the city’s request, determined a financial emergency.

Coulter, a 54-year-old Detroit-area finance consultant, will have complete financial control and should examine consolidating or merging services as well as privatization as alternatives for balancing the budget.