AAF Government Report

February 5, 2010

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Alaina Flaherty, Federation Intern

Congressman Rick Boucher Announces 2010 Telecommunications Plan

Last week, Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) announced his intentions to revamp telecommunications throughout the country. By March, Congressman Boucher is expected to formally introduce legislation intended to overhaul federal funding for subsidizing telecommunications service in rural and impoverished areas. This will bring services to many citizens through venues such as libraries and schools.

Mr. Boucher has announced his efforts and intentions to strengthen online privacy protection as well as renew the regulations governing the transmission of broadcast signals over satellite TV. Later this year, the Congressman will propose legislation which gives brings consumer protection to wireless phone users.

Over the next two months, the Congressman will host two oversight hearings. One to discuss funding the upcoming broadband stimulus package, scheduled for later this month, and the other to discuss the FCC’s national broadband plan, scheduled for March.
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Senator Kerry Asks Congress to Amend Constitution

On Tuesday, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) announced support for a Constitutional amendment limiting the ability of corporations to invest their money in political spending. This call is in response to the recent Supreme Court case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. This ruling found that Congress cannot limit corporate spending in political broadcasts for candidate elections for it infringes on a corporation’s right to free speech.

Kerry took a hard stance on the subject by stating, "I think we need a constitutional amendment to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals." Legislation to counteract the Supreme Court’s ruling will be proposed soon. Both corporate America and unions have traditionally opposed this type of speech restriction.
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First Lady to Overhaul Child Nutrition Plan

On Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama held a meeting with members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries to discuss her impending anti-obesity campaign. The meeting topics included a discussion of the reauthorization of child nutrition programs which Congress is scheduled to reexamine this year. The first lady worked with the group to find a bipartisan solution to our nation’s problem with obesity, especially in children. This will include changes to the current child nutrition programs such as school meals and the women, infants and children’s program.

After the meeting Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D- AK), House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), pledged to work on a legislative approach to combat obesity. Senate Agriculture ranking minority member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), in attendance at the meeting, later issued a statement highlighting parent’s roles in their children’s eating habits. The Congressman showed his support for new legislation, but held that “nothing can replace the direct involvement of caregivers at home.”
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HHS Announces Additional Funding to Combat Poor Health

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $119.5 million to states and territories to support public health efforts. This money is the first to come from the prevention and wellness initiative, “Communities Putting Prevention to Work,” which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This money has been allocated in three ways. First, various states will receive funding to support proper nutrition, promoting physical activity, fighting obesity and tobacco control. These are thought by many to be the four most effective ways to fight chronic disease.

Second, all states will receive funding for tobacco “quit-lines,” or quitting hotlines, and tobacco cessation media campaigns. Lastly, thirteen states will receive additional funding for 15 competitive special policy and environmental change projects. “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” will announce more initiatives for community based health promotion in coming months.
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