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<em>WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT: In this section, we present a few of the major issues that have come up in the public discourse this week.
We end each subject with a question to encourage you to consider your own opinions about these issues
and how they affect our community. Please take a moment and contribute to the dialogue.</em>
Sunday, September 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:07 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

[1] Abortion bill

The Missouri General Assembly passed an abortion regulation bill during a special legislative session last week that includes three changes to provisions that restrict minors seeking the procedure. Now, lawsuits can be filed against anyone who helps a minor get an abortion without judicial or parental consent. Doctors performing abortions must have clinical privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed. Finally, the bill restricts who can petition for an abortion on behalf of a minor whose parents refuse.

The bill has already met opposition from pro-choice groups. Planned Parenthood chapters in Missouri say they plan to challenge the bill in state court. Protestors lined up outside Gov. Matt Blunt’s office with boxes of signed petitions that urged the governor to make contraception more available, thus decreasing the need for abortions.

What is the best way to reduce the number of abortions in Missouri?

[2] Constitution Day

Sept. 17 marked the nation’s first Constitution Day, which President Bush declared to celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Bush signed a bill earlier this year requiring all federally funded educational institutions to conduct lessons about the Constitution, but since the day fell on a Saturday this year, many area schools held activities last week.

The educational requirements of Constitution Day have been met with divergent opinions in the law community. While one MU law professor has a problem with federally mandated curriculum, another said the day could be beneficial to students’ knowledge of the country’s defining legal document. MU law professor Carl Esbeck said that requiring teachers to teach the Constitution poses no constitutional issues since the bill does not tell schools what to teach.

Do you think Americans are inadequately knowledgeable about the U.S. Constitution?

[3] Pedestrian safety

The corner of Scott Boulevard and Bethany Drive was marked by flowers, balloons and a big yellow banner after a 7-year-old was hit by a car and killed there last week. Patrick Knedler, a second-grader at Mill Creek Elementary School, died at University Hospital. The intersection has been the site of several accidents involving children. Some residents say the 40-mph speed limit in the area is too high. Police declined to file charges against the driver, a 27-year-old man.

A month ago, a car collided with an MU student who ran a red light on her bike at the intersection of Rollins Street and College Avenue. The 19-year-old student, Krysten Chambrot, survived but sustained serious injuries to both her legs. Charges were not filed in that case either.

How can Columbia be a safer place for pedestrians and bikers?

[4] The buck stops where?

President Bush took a break from touring the Gulf Coast to deliver a primetime speech promising a massive federal effort to rebuild areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Bush took personal responsibility for the federal government’s slow response to the disaster, saying he was committed to solving problems with the government’s emergency response function. Bush also said he had ordered his cabinet to participate in a review of the administration’s hurricane response.

In his message to the nation, Bush proposed creating a “Gulf Opportunity Zone” in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to encourage businesses to stay in the area and new ones to open. The government would also help by providing housing, education, job-training and taxes, Bush said. The effort could cost $200 billion or more.

Do you have confidence that the same government that failed to respond with

urgency to a natural disaster can rebuild the Gulf Coast?

[5] Artificial turf

The Columbia School Board has decided to spend more than $1 million to install artificial turf on the athletic fields at Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. In a 6-1 vote, board members reasoned that the turf would allow more student and community groups to use the fields without worrying about the ground’s condition. Use of the fields is now limited to keep them in good shape.

Board member Darin Preis was the only dissenting vote. Instead of spending $1 million for both fields, Preis said it would be better to spend less money on a single community field. That way, the leftover money could be used for other basic school needs.

Which is a better use of Columbia Public Schools’ funds: two fields with artificial turf or a single field that would leave money left over?


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