by Grady Brown
A potential government shutdown is upon us once again. The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30 and, pending a temporary budget bill, the government may well shut down for the second time in three years on October 1. It’s a familiar story — one that is emblematic of the gridlock in DC — and it’s an issue at the forefront of debate for the Congressmen returning from summer recess.
So will we see a shutdown or another last second deal? It’s difficult to tell, but any prediction will need to consider one of the core issues that seems to be driving the disagreement: Planned Parenthood. This summer, anti-abortion activists released a number of undercover videos, claiming Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue.
It’s unclear whether Planner Parenthood violated the law. The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993 makes it illegal to sell fetal tissue, but allows organizations to collect a “reasonable” fee to mitigate the costs of donating the tissue. Nevertheless, the videos initiated a political firestorm from social conservatives, which has only added to the mounting polarization over the nation’s budget.
by Grady Brown
There has been some recent action in the Virginia General Assembly concerning state marijuana laws. At the end of January, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed Senate Bill 686, which would have decriminalized marijuana possession and lowered the penalty for possession from $500 to $100. However, the Republican controlled Courts and Justice Committee rejected the bill in a party line 9 – 5 vote. The bill was faced with strong opposition from law enforcement organizations.
While the Senate rejected decriminalization, it did pass Senate Bill 1235, which would loosen medical restrictions on cannabis oils. A similar bill in the House of Delegates has also passed through committee. Should the bill be signed into law, epilepsy patients in the Commonwealth would be able to use marijuana oils to help treat seizures. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has already expressed his support for the bill.
The mixed results in Richmond show a divided General Assembly, but a March 2014 poll from Quinnipiac University poll reported 84 percent of Virginia voters supported legalizing medical marijuana, while 13 percent were opposed. However, legalized marijuana for recreational use is still divided, with 46 percent of Virginia voters in favor and 48 percent opposed. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 2.7 percent. National support for legalized marijuana is also increasing, with a recent Gallup Poll showing 51 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed with a 4 percent margin of error.
by Haley Swartz
In advance of the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, public dialogue and political action must shift to emphasize exercise and physical education courses, in addition to a balanced, nutritionally rich diet.
Congress amends the CNA every five years to reflect new research on public health trends and refocus the goals of the National School Lunch Program. Preceding the most recent CNA reauthorization, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move!initiative to end childhood obesity in February 2010. This program reflected a new emphasis on childhood obesity within the 2010 reauthorization of the CNA, or the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. However, this law will expire on September 30, 2015.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third, or 12 million American children and adolescents, were overweight or obese in 2012. According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Americans see obesity as a “very serious public health problem.” While 57 percent of Americans believe government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children, only 42 percent of the public believes the government should address adult obesity.