Higgins Announces Passage of Food Safety Bill

First Overhaul in 70 Years to Protect Public Health

Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined the House of Representatives in approving H.R. 2751, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  The bipartisan bill, providing sweeping protections to the nation’s food supply, will now move to the President’s desk for his signature.

 “Consumers should be able to feel comfortable knowing the food they place on their kitchen table and pack in their children’s lunch is safe,” said Congressman Higgins.  “The last time Congress took comprehensive steps to improve food safety was the 1930’s and an updated approach to how we protect consumers in today’s world is long overdue.”

 The bill includes several consumer safety measures including:

  • Requiring importers of foreign food to verify products meet U.S. safety standards; 
  • Improving traceability of food in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak;
  • Creating a more accurate registry of food facilities and increases FDA inspections;
  • Giving the FDA authority to recall food (under current law it must rely on companies to voluntarily pull products); and
  • Protecting whistleblowers reporting safety violations.

 In addition the bill protects small business and farmers by eliminating the registration fee on facilities in the food system and exempting those selling less than $500,000 from certain requirements.

 Each year, 76 million Americans become sick and 5,000 die after consuming contaminated food.  For more information on safe cooking and eating visit:

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Higgins Votes for America COMPETES Act

Brian Higgins

Bill Gives US Companies, Students a Competitive Edge in New Economy

 Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced congressional approval of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5116), a bill designed to strengthen U.S. innovation in today’s economy.

 “Long term job creation and economic growth is dependent on our ability to be one step ahead when it comes to preparing our children, schools, manufacturers and researchers to meet the needs of tomorrow’s demands,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This legislation demonstrates a commitment to seeing that America rises to that challenge.” 

 Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector generates $1.5 trillion worth of goods, accounts for more than half of US exports and employs millions of people. The America COMPETES Act helps to create jobs with innovative technology local guarantees for small and mid-sized manufacturers. 

 Education

For the US to remain competitive, we must create the next generation of researchers, scientists and innovators by improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at all levels. This legislation encourages, through scholarships and grants, improvements to STEM education in elementary and secondary schools, training for teachers in STEM classrooms and assistance to universities expanding STEM programs. 

 Research

The US investment in science and technology has been essentially flat, until very recently, with other countries like China on a path to outpace us in the area of research and development.   The America COMPETES Act supports new Regional Innovation Clusters to strengthen regional economies by leveraging collaboration and communication among businesses.

 The America COMPETES Act is supported by dozens of groups including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufactures and the Association of American Universities.  The bill now moves to the President for his signature.

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Census Shows GOP-Leaning States Will Gain Congressional Seats

Results of the 2010 census are beginning to bring changes to our political picture. 

Eight states will gain congressional seats and 10 will lose them, according to U.S. Census data released Tuesday. The biggest winners are Texas, which will gain four seats, and Florida, which will gain two. New York and Ohio will each lose two seats.

The total population of the country as of April 1 was 308,745,538, a 9.7 percent increase since 2000.

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Death Penalty Down in U.S., Figures Show

There were 12% fewer executions in 2010 than the previous year.  Jurors are not choosing death sentences but rather show a continuing preference for the alternative of punishing criminal defendants with sentences of life without parole.

There’s more concern about the accuracy of the death penalty, the fairness and even the costs.

The states continue to condemn far more prisoners to death than they actually execute.

There are 3,261 people on death row in the United States; California has the largest population, with 697, while New Hampshire and Wyoming have one apiece.

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Sarah Palin Mocks Michelle Obama’s Anti-Obesity Campaign

Sarah Palin has repeatedly taken aim at Michelle Obama's efforts to fight childhood obesity.
Sarah Palin has repeatedly taken aim at Michelle Obama’s efforts to fight childhood obesity.

What the heck is wrong with Sarah Palin?  Oh, hang on there.  I don’t have enough time to write the entire list.  Let’s just take her jab at the First Lady about helping our children lead healthier lives.

The moose-munching Tea Party darling is picking a fight with the First Lady – over dessert.

“As I tell my kids, dessert is not a right,” Obama told the NAACP in July, touting her “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

While Obama’s program does not explicitly tell parents to avoid dessert, it suggests cutting back on sugar.

It was the second time in a month Palin has bashed the First Lady’s calorie-curbing movement.

“What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat,” the ex-Alaska governor told radio host Laura Ingraham last month.

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Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop Again

Teen pregnancy rates are the lowest ever recorded in the nearly 70 years that the federal government has been collecting reliable data.  That’s pretty remarkable.  Apparently even teens responded to the tough times and thought long and hard about taking the risk.

The drop marked the second year in a row the birth rate among teens fell, meaning it has dropped for 16 out of the past 18 years. The 8 percent two-year decline strengthens the belief that a two-year increase during the preceding two years was an aberration.

The reason for the record low remains unclear, but some experts attributed the two-year decline to the recession, noting that the overall fertility rate as well as the total number of births in the United States declined the second straight year in 2009 as well.

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Mental Health Needs Seen Growing at Colleges


CRISES AND PREVENTION Judy Esposito, a social worker with experience counseling Sept. 11 widows, started a triage unit at Stony Brook to help with mental health issues. Another program recruits students to help their peers.

So your child is in college.  You know that they have a lot to do, to think about, to learn.  What you may not know is how depressed they are.  Students used to seek the advice of their college counselors seeking answers to questions like, “who am I?”  Now they come brining life stories involving extensive trauma, a history of serious mental illness, eating disorders, self-injury, alcohol and other drug use.

Experts say the trend is partly linked to effective psychotropic drugs (Wellbutrin for depression, Adderall for attention disorder, Abilify for bipolar disorder) that have allowed students to attend college who otherwise might not have functioned in a campus setting. 

There is also greater awareness of traumas scarcely recognized a generation ago and a willingness to seek help for those problems, including bulimia, self-cutting and childhood sexual abuse. 

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Word On The Street

Something I picked up over the week-end.  Looking ahead and pre planning things is very useful, especially for politicians who can see the handwriting on the wall.  When boundaries are set to change and there is concern about whether someone will be left out in the cold, could some “politicos” actually go so far as to move from one home to another?

Congressman Chris Lee has recently moved to Bradenham Place in Pomeroy Park, Eggertsville.  It certainly is legal but it may make it more difficult for Brian Higgins to better hold on to a piece of Amherst in the upcoming reapportionment.

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This Bonus Season on Wall Street, Many See Zeros

Oh, whoa is me.  Pity the poor Wall Street folks who are facing the reality of receiving zero bonus.  In 2008 when the financial situation fell apart executives still received huge bonuses.  Not this year but not to worry.  They now make twice the salary that they did back then.  The end result is no loss financially.  Can you believe that they are panicked over getting a zero bonus?  Did your salary double?

Drawn from a broad swath of back-office employees and middle-level traders, bankers and brokers, the Zeros, as they have come to be called, are facing a once-unthinkable prospect: an annual bonus of … nothing.

“It’s going to a cause a lot of panic on Wall Street,” said Richard Stein of Global Sage, an executive search firm. “Everybody is talking about it, but they’re actually concerned about it becoming public. I would not want to be head of compensation at a Wall Street firm right now.”

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Enrollment Of Muslim Students Is Growing At Catholic Colleges In U.S.

Can Muslim students find Allah in a Catholic college or university?  Apparently so.  Reef Al-Shabnan, a 19-year-old from Saudi Arabia, said you can find Allah anywhere, even in a room with a life-size painting of Jesus carrying the cross.  The room also has a portrait of a late priest and theologian, and high above the room hangs a small wooden crucifix.  This is where she goes to say her daily prayers.  This is not, Shabnan acknowledges, the ideal space for a Muslim to pray in.

In the past few years, enrollment of Muslim students such as Shabnan has spiked at Catholic campuses across the country. Last year, Catholic colleges had an even higher percentage of Muslim students than the average four-year institution in the United States, according to the Higher Education Research Institute. The influx has astonished and sometimes befuddled administrators. Some Catholic campuses are creating prayer rooms for new Muslim students and hiring Islamic chaplains to minister to them. Others are unsure how to adapt.

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