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Gary Varvel l Indianapolis Star

Furthermore …

Kasich

Alarming increase in teen driver deaths

Hoosier teens haven’t gotten the message that texting while driving can be deadly.

A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that in the first half of 2012, Indiana had the highest increase in deaths in the nation for drivers age 16 and 17. Indiana was at the top of a list of states with increases in teen driver deaths that also included Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky and Louisiana.

Indiana State Police point to texting while driving as the probable culprit. But they also advise parents to talk with teen drivers about limiting all driving distractions, such as cranking up the stereo, changing stations on the radio, eating and drinking.

The distractions – coupled with inexperienced drivers – lead to a higher likelihood of accidents.

Gay marriage gains support from GOP

The growing acceptance of gay marriage and civil unions can be attributed to many factors, not the least of which is that so many Americans have a relative, friend or business associate who is gay. They see no reason a consenting adult should not be able to establish a legal partnership with another consenting adult.

Increasingly, the debate transcends partisan lines. And to reinforce that increasing numbers in both major political parties are OK with gay marriage, dozens of prominent Republicans have attached their names to a legal brief supporting gay marriage in a case now before the Supreme Court.

They include Meg Whitman, who supported a gay marriage ban when she ran for California governor; David Stockman, who was President Reagan’s budget director; and Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor.

In addition, more than 200 companies – including Citigroup, Apple and Alcoa – have signed on to a brief opposing the federal law banning gay unions. Their main concern is that the law forbids federal benefits from going to same-sex partners, proving to be a logistical nightmare in states were gay marriage is legal. The law “forces us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees,” the brief states.

Tellingly, one of the main lawyers seeking to overturn the California ban on same-sex marriage (also before the Supreme Court) is Theodore Olson, solicitor general for President George W. Bush.

Several other prominent members of the GOP have also voiced support, though have not – at least not yet – signed on to the legal brief. They include former first lady Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and actor Clint Eastwood.

Workplaces renew emphasis on work

Two companies that many regard as cool have become less cool to work for.

Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, a Gen Xer whom the Chicago Tribune described as “corporate America’s most famous working mother,” has told Yahoo workers they can no longer work from home.

“Communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices,” Yahoo’s HR director told workers in a memo.

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”

And Harley-Davidson told its employees there will be no more music on the factory floor, either through a sound system or individual earbuds.

“It’s a distraction,” a company spokeswoman said. “It’s really important for people – no matter what they do – to be focused on what they do.”

Another reminder of why it’s called “work.”

Pence’s Medicaid stand allies dwindling

Like other notable Republican governors, John Kasich of Ohio believes that his constituents will be best served by expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Health Care Act. But Kasich cannot do it on his own. He needs approval from the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature.

So this week, Kasich appealed to operators and supporters of food banks – who deal daily with many of the people who would benefit from a Medicaid expansion – to express their support. He’s also asked health care professionals and social service advocates to tell legislators they support Medicaid expansion.

“We can prevent poverty through this program,” Kasich said. “Go and visit. Tell them what it’s about.”

Perhaps Indiana Gov. Mike Pence knows something Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and five other GOP governors don’t know. Or perhaps those governors, faced with the reality of Obamacare, want to do what is best for their constituents while Pence is still more interested in fighting the health care plan.

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