Editorial voices from across the state
State Rep. Frank Farry, R-142, Middletown, is sponsoring a bill to regulate the indoor tanning industry. Many states already have such laws; Pennsylvania is not among them. Farry wants to protect young people from the serious hazards of overexposure to ultraviolet light, which can lead to premature aging of the skin and, more seriously, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The bill would prohibit anyone 16 and under from using commercial tanning equipment that emits ultraviolet light; 17-year-olds would need parental permission before hopping on a tanning bed.
Given what’s known about the deleterious effects of ultraviolet rays on the skin – whether from the sun or man-made sources – Farry’s legislation is not a bad idea. Sensible regulation no doubt could have some positive health benefits. If nothing else, the rules would send a message that forcing a tan very often produces unpleasant long-term consequences.
That said, we would suggest the people of Pennsylvania would be much better served if Rep. Farry and his colleagues focused their attention – and the limited time remaining before they scatter for their biennial electioneering – on more pressing matters. Things like a law banning lawmakers from receiving gifts – all gifts, not just cash. Or facing instead of ignoring the impending pension catastrophe that threatens financial ruin for school districts and municipalities. Or addressing property taxes. Or placing limits on campaign contributions. Or assuring that social service agencies receive the funding they need. Or making higher education more affordable.
There are many, many issues that cry out for legislative remedy. And so little time to achieve anything – maybe only the next couple of months. When June rolls around, lawmakers will be focused on the budget. Then will come summer vacation. Then, if history is any guide, only a few session days interrupting what for many representatives and senators will be nonstop campaigning until November.
Lawmakers don’t have the luxury of debating relatively minor bills while matters of extreme urgency are begging for their attention. Pennsylvanians will survive an unregulated indoor tanning industry. But they might be consumed by the pension avalanche or a crushing tax structure. Or by their own elected representatives who base their decisions on the gifts they receive and not what’s best for the people they were elected to serve.
The cartel that is college athletics has been whistling past its day of judgment for decades. It makes billions of dollars off the backs of student athletes – primarily those playing football and basketball in nothing less than the minor leagues of the NFL and NBA – in return for academic scholarships that are no piddling amounts but whose value pales by comparison.
Adding insult to exploitation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) then imposes draconian outside earnings rules on student athletes, deepening and widening exploitation’s gulch.
Now comes the National Labor Relations Board and the United Steelworkers, the latter footing the bill for a union organizing effort by football players at Northwestern University through the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA). An NLRB regional director ruled Wednesday that scholarship players indeed are “employees” and, thus, legally able to unionize.
Collectively bargaining for “wages” is not CAPA’s goal. Rather it said it seeks guaranteed short- and long-term coverage for injuries, injury-reduction efforts and pursuit of commercial sponsorships. These are hardly unreasonable requests given the profits Division I schools reap from these players.
College athletic unions are far from a done deal. Appeals will wend their way through the legal system for years. But even if CAPA prevails, the ruling will apply only to private schools.
Still, the writing is on the campus walls. And the NCAA and its member schools would be stupid to not make – outside of unionization – such modest accommodations to those responsible for so much of their wealth.