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Are we there yet?

Posted by Stephanie A. Smith, Ph.D., on Mon, March 3, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

Ahhh, memories of that question, as my brother, sister and I crammed into the back of a late-70’s model Dodge Dart, while my father drove us from the Kansas City, KS suburbs to the Ozarks, where we would visit family and eventually relocate for most of my formative years.  It was only about a 6 hour drive, but seemed like an eternity that would fray my mother’s nerves and inevitably result in at least one event of car sickness (usually my sister) and the ongoing threat of impending doom from my father:  “If you kids don’t quiet down…”


A couple of weeks ago many of us were applauding passage of a bill to amend the The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA).  Indeed, the bipartisan support for the HABHRCA amendments, which included the expansion of the task force to include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is something to celebrate!  But folks, in effect, we’ve just loaded up the car and stuffed the extra pillows into the trunk, and have driven to the end of our block.  We aren’t there yet, and here’s why.

The bill has passed in the Senate, but as shown at the page that tracks the status of HABHRCA, it still has to pass in the House, and get approved by the President.  Then, it has to get money to back it up.   In a blog entitled Mind the Gap, I used another travel analogy to discuss what I called the HAB Gap, and promised that I would provide some ideas on how we all can pitch in and help to address this issue.  This is certainly an opportune time to provide some recommendations:

  1. If you are in one of the 18 states where a Senator was a cosponsor, tell them THANK YOU, by email, hard copy letter, social media, or whatever works!  You can find the cosponsor list if you scroll down on the HABHRCA page.  We are very proud that Ohio’s own Rob Portman was one of the sponsors!
  2. NOW IS THE TIME to get the attention of the people serving your district in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Send a letter, call, whatever it takes to get the message out that this bill matters to you, the voter!  You should refer to it as S. 1254: Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 in your correspondence.
  3. Follow Beagle Bioproducts’ web site and social media pages where we will track the progress of this legislation.  We will put out similar calls to action as further steps are taken!

So, unlike my brother, sister and I back in 1979, you have a wholehearted endorsement to make some noise and get the attention of the drivers of this bill in Congress!

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