Sins of omission

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The state Legislature missed at least two opportunities to pass important common-sense laws. Proposals to legalize medical marijuana and to empower victims of pedophiles to sue their abusers never made it to either the Senate or Assembly floors. Clearly election-year cowardice among Democratic leaders played a role in both sins of omission.

There is more than enough evidence showing that marijuana helps chronically ill patients, including those with HIV/AIDS and those struggling with the debilitating effects of chemotherapy. Denying them access to life-enhancing therapy is the worst sort of government intrusion into both health care and the private lives of citizens.

Yet the very right-wing activists who screech the mantra “keep government out of health care” opposed this law. Instead of taking on the hypocrisy of Tea Party activists such as state Rep. Leah Vukmir, Democrats let the bill go up in smoke.

It is outrageous that lawmakers in the state with the highest rate of drunkenness in the nation and the least punitive laws against drunk driving continue to deny patients access to medically prescribed marijuana. Even Michigan, the state with the second highest number of right-wing militias in the nation, has legalized medical pot.

The Child Victims Act withered on the same vine of election-year politics as the medical marijuana law. The act would have removed the statute of limitations for civil action against the sexual abusers of children, and it would have created a three-year window allowing victims to sue if the previous statute had barred their cases.

Backers of this bill said similar legislation brought to light 300 previously unknown pedophiles in California and 70 in Delaware. Since the average perpetrator preys on 80 to 100 victims over the course of a lifetime, the “window” legislation in those states likely prevented the abuse of thousands of children.

A law targeting child abusers should be a no-brainer. But not when lobbyists from the state’s powerful Roman Catholic Church are fighting against it for reasons that are as painfully obvious as they are morally reprehensible.

Rather than fight the church in an election year, Democrats gave pedophiles another free pass, even as abuses in Wisconsin are in the international headlines. The inaction on this bill takes political pandering to new lows.