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Schumer seeks review of metals in baby food

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is demanding that the Food and Drug Administration draft regulations to force baby food manufacturers to address the presence of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium in their products.

Schumer’s call for action is on the heels of a report from Healthy Babies Bright Futures that founded that 95% of baby foods tested included these metals. The study tested 61 brands and 13 types of food, including infant formula, teething biscuits, cereals and fruit juices, according to a news release.

Schumer said the FDA established a Toxic Elements Working Group in 2017 to modernize standards governing toxic metals that Americans are exposed to, but the task force has not developed any new regulations.

These metals are neurotoxins that can impede the development of baby’s brains, diminish their IQ and affect behavior, Schumer said. Arsenic can cause bladder, lung and skin cancer; lead can lead to attention deficits and behavior problems; cadmium is linked to cancer, as well as kidney, bone and heart damage; and mercury increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Heavy metals in baby foods mixed with inaction by the FDA on this issue is a recipe for disaster, and a rightful concern of parents,” Schumer said in a news release.

Delaying bail reform

Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, last week repeated his call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to delay bail reform measures set to take effect on Jan. 1 in light of the recent car chase in Warren County that killed an innocent man.

Stec has expressed concern that the man originally charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and other crimes for the chase, Skyler B. Crouse of Akwesasne, could have been freed without bail if the law was in effect now, because those crimes are considered nonviolent under state law.

“There are far too many loopholes that allow dangerous criminals back out on the street while awaiting trial,” Stec said in a news release. “I encourage the governor to reconsider his stance and at the very least delay them, so they can be reworked to better protect our communities.”

Alzheimer’s drugs

research

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, offered an amendment to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 to exclude drugs used to treat or cure Alzheimer’s from the list of drugs that the Health and Human Services secretary can select for government price controls.

Stefanik said that with one in four Americans struggling to afford medications, Congress needs to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

“Let’s be clear: government price controls, take-it-or-leave-it offers dressed up as negotiations, and the threat of a 95% sales tax is a tax on innovation and a tax on life-saving cures,” Stefanik said in a news release. “In contrast, my amendment ensures ongoing research to end Alzheimer’s disease for patients and families will not be endangered or stifled by the Democrats’ partisan legislation.”

Notifying people

of drug recalls

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that requires pharmacies to inform patients within seven days of Class I recalls made within the FDA.

Recalled drugs can cause severe health consequences, including death, and the severity of health risks is particularly high for elderly patients and those taking long-term medications, according to a news release.

Limousine legislation

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Stefanik and her colleagues Reps. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, along with Democratic Sens. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced a package of bills to make limousines safer in response to last year’s tragic accident in Schoharie that killed 20 people.

The Safe Limos Act of 2019 would require each new limousine to have lap shoulder belts and meet minimum requirements for seat strength and integrity and would explore the feasibility of retrofitting existing limos. The Take Unsafe Limos Off the Road Act would create a grant program to help states impound or immobilize limousines that fail inspection.

The End the Limo Loophole Act would require that vehicles altered to transport more than 15 passengers be designated as a commercial motor vehicle. Stretch limos currently fall outside of this definition.

SEC rule changes

Stefanik voted against two bills that involve oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

She voted against the Outsourcing Accountability Act of 2019, which would amend the Securities & Exchange Act of 1934 to require that public companies disclose information about the number of domestic and foreign workers in their employ, according to GovTrack.us. A newly public company with revenues below a certain threshold is exempt from the bill’s disclosure requirement. The bill passed in a mostly party-line vote, 226-184.

The SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Act requires the SEC to assess the usefulness of certain disclosure rules to retail investors. That bill passed by a similar vote of 229-186.

Stefanik honored

by colleges

Stefanik was recognized last Thursday for her leadership and support of independent colleges and universities.

Barbara K. Mistick, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, presented Stefanik with a framed replica of her Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus Member Spotlight.

Paul Smith’s College President Cathy S. Dove cited Stefanik’s support for federal student aid.

“Her unwavering advocacy for programs such as Pell and veterans programs ensures that many worthy students have access to a great education at schools such as Paul Smith’s College,” Dove said in a news release. “Her passionate leadership in addressing significant economic and environmental issues is also highly valued by our entire region.”