ISSUE | PA. BUDGET

Withhold taxes

It has been nearly seven months since Pennsylvania's government failed in its basic responsibility to pass a budget. This inaction has consequences: Many nonprofits, school districts, and others in the state are hurting from the lack of funding.

As Pennsylvania citizens, we don't have to facilitate this. We have the means to effectively pressure our elected officials to get this task done.

I urge all state residents - regardless of political affiliation - and businesses to suspend sending their state taxes to Harrisburg. Instead, such taxes should be deposited in full in an escrow account in their banks. This is a designated account that is earmarked for the specific purpose. As soon as a budget is signed into law, these funds can quickly be sent to Harrisburg.

If you choose to do this, send an email to the governor and your state senator and representative to tell them what you are doing and why.

Is such direct citizen action a form of civil disobedience? Does it carry risks? Yes, and I'm usually not a risk-taking person; I'm a conventional, middle-aged suburbanite. If enough of us take such action, however, I am hopeful that we can have a state budget within weeks.

|Bill Dingfelder, Bala Cynwyd

ISSUE | COMCAST

Good neighbor

When people complain about Comcast, they don't recognize the great corporate citizen we have in Philadelphia.

Comcast provides tens of thousands of jobs and continually reinvests in our city - as evidenced by construction of the 59-story Comcast Innovation and Technology Center near the 58-floor Comcast Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, and, hopefully, a projected third tower.

The economic impact of General Electric Co. moving its corporate headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Conn., should make us appreciate Comcast's presence even more.

And despite complaints about customer service, Comcast does an excellent job in a high-pressure situation given our dependence on these products.

I own the two Misconduct Taverns in Center City, and we use all of Comcast's products - phone, cable, and Internet. (I also have those services at my home in Fairmount.) That has enabled us to grow and prosper in Philadelphia.

|Chuck Ercole, Philadelphia, cercole@klehr.com

ISSUE | ROWAN UNIVERSITY

Don't sell land

Rowan University's prospective sale of 100 acres in Gloucester County to Inspira Health Network for a new hospital within five miles of Kennedy Health Care Center in Washington Township would lead to redundancy of care while negatively affecting the livelihood of many of my close neighbors who are employed by the Kennedy Health System.

Such a deal would also have a negative impact on Kennedy's relationship with the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine as its primary teaching hospital.

As a Rowan alumnus, I believe the sale of such valuable land would inhibit the university's growth plans for academic and athletic facilities. I urge Rowan's board of trustees to vote down the proposed sale.

|Gary Pizzichillo, executive director, Kennedy Health Care Center, Sewell, g.pizzichillo@kennedyhealth.org

ISSUE | CAMPAIGN 2016

Cruz is eligible for the White House

The commentary arguing that Sen. Ted Cruz is not eligible for the presidency was poorly researched and reasoned ("Cruz not eligible to be president," Monday). Instead of parsing statutes from the 18th century, the answer is readily found in our citizenship law, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

Cruz was born in 1970 in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Cruz's mother was born and raised in Wilmington, Del. A child born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen and a noncitizen is a U.S. citizen at birth when the American parent was born and raised in the United States (see Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

In simple terms, a "natural born citizen" is a citizen at birth, as opposed to a "naturalized" citizen who acquires U.S. citizenship later. If the drafters of Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution had meant to restrict the presidency to people born on U.S. soil, they would have said so.

|Steve Britt, former assistant U.S. attorney, Plymouth Meeting, sjbritt@comcast.net

ISSUE | EDUCATION

Waking up to youths' sleep needs

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer recommendations to help students get a good night's sleep ("Wrong time to slumber," Thursday). While there is no quick fix, Main Line school districts and community organizations will address this issue on Feb. 21 and 22.

The Radnor Township School District and Radnor League of Women Voters will present "Sleep and the Adolescent Brain" - three forums for parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and community members. Dr. Judith Owens, a national expert on sleep needs, will take part in each forum.

Other supporters of the sessions include Radnor's parent-teacher organizations and Parent-Teacher-Student Association, the Lower Merion School District, Tredyffrin-Easttown parent-teacher organizations, and area Leagues of Women Voters. For details, see www.bit.ly/sleepforum.

|Roberta L. Winters, president, League of Women Voters of Radnor Township, Rosemont

ISSUE | MARIJUANA

Research needed

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's decision last month to relax requirements for marijuana-derived research is encouraging. The Pennsylvania Medical Society, on behalf of our members and their patients, urges that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also work to support research that will lead to the development of safe treatment options.

We also urge the FDA to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance to facilitate research across the country.

With legislation to legalize medical marijuana pending in Pennsylvania, we are hopeful that the DEA decision will slow down state legislation on marijuana legalization in favor of FDA-approved clinical research and rescheduling of the substance. Advocates and patients want to use marijuana for illnesses and conditions despite incomplete and limited FDA research on its safety and effectiveness. Society members prefer additional research and clinical study before Pennsylvania allows medical use of marijuana. This position is aligned with the American Medical Association's policy.

|Dr. Scott E. Shapiro, president, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Harrisburg

Release pot possessors from prison

Marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado earned $76 million in 2014 from its legalization of marijuana. It created thousands of jobs, and the state saved tens of millions of dollars in criminal justice costs. Juveniles' use of marijuana is down.

But what about the millions of Americans whose lives have been ruined by arrests for nonviolent marijuana offenses? From 2001 to 2010, police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests; almost nine in 10 were for possession alone. In 2011, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined.

Long after the majority of states have legalized marijuana, we will still be wasting billions of tax dollars annually imprisoning recreational marijuana users. Can anyone call this justice? More than 30 million Americans have a scarlet letter - a record of a marijuana arrest - emblazoned on their life's record.

Justice and fairness require that states enact laws to free those imprisoned only for marijuana possession and to expunge their records.

|Ken Abraham, president, Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover