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Know your risk — stop diabetes deaths

Can you imagine if everyone in the state of Florida walked around with a disease called "the silent killer" — and didn't know it? Or if every single resident in New York and California were at a high risk for developing this "silent killer"? Nearly 6 million Americans are unaware that they have diabetes. Look around you. One in five Americans is at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Could one of them be someone you love?

For many people with Type 2 diabetes, diagnosis may come years after onset. Yet, early diagnosis is critical to delay or prevent the debilitating complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and amputation.

What can you do to stop diabetes? Know your risk.

March 23 was American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Discover your risk for Type 2 diabetes — and join the movement to stop this terrible disease — by visiting stopdiabetes.com or 800-DIABETES.

It's time to stop this silent killer once and for all.

—Kathleen Jaeger

Maitland

FCC abandoning indecency as TV gets more graphic

For many months, the biggest battle confronting Congress has been over plans for health care reform; yet no one from either party has mentioned one of the gravest threats to the mental health of American children: television. The Surgeon General's 2001 report cited statistical links between television watching and violent behavior similar in strength to the evidence linking smoking and lung cancer. Last year, the average child living in the U.S. watched 12,000 murders, assaults and other violent acts on television — and that number is still rising. And yet, the Federal Communications Commission is doing nothing to curb violence or other harmful content on TV.

The FCC was created by Congress in the Communications Act of 1934. As part of its mission, the FCC is required to ensure that television and radio stations, which hold licenses to use the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves, do so in a manner compatible with "the public interest, convenience and necessity."

This is crucial: According to the law, the American people own the broadcast airwaves. Local stations and television networks do not. They are permitted to use those airwaves only so long as they do so "in the public interest." A major part of that "interest" includes not using public property to force content distasteful or even offensive to some members of society into their homes. Rules against indecency on the public airwaves have been settled law in the U.S. for more than 40 years; and, as the federal agency charged with regulating broadcasters and the use of the airwaves, it is the FCC's job to enforce those laws.

But the FCC is refusing to do so!

The FCC today is trying to extend its reach into areas that Congress has not authorized. Yet they are ignoring the responsibility that Congress has expressly assigned to them: enforcing broadcast decency laws. The FCC continues to turn a deaf ear to the pleas of millions of families across the country — families who have asked the Commission to step in and take an active role in upholding decency standards for broadcasters.

Back in 2004, the PTC — backed by demands of citizens like you! — got Congress to increase fines against indecent programming from a measly, meaningless $27,500 to half a million dollars per offense! The House of Representatives voted for this increase by a 10-to-1 margin; and the Senate voted for it unanimously!

American families have the right not to be assaulted in their own living rooms with indecent content. Congress has oversight power on the FCC. By writing, phoning or e-mailing their senators and congressmen, Americans can demand that the FCC fulfill its responsibility to uphold the law — not with vague promises, but by announcing a specific timeframe for addressing the 1.6 million outstanding indecency complaints.

—Alnita Ann Holder

Central Florida Chapter co-director

Parents Television Council

Focus in on jobs in Legislature

I'd like to update you on my last article on the proposed budget from the governor. The total amount that the governor proposes the state spend for next year is $69.2 billion, an increase more than the $66 billion allocated for the current fiscal year. When I first took office in 2006, our state budget was $73 billion; however the economic turmoil over the last few years has certainly taken its toll on the state. Out of the major policy areas, the breakdown is as follows for "The People's Budget":

• 3.1 percent allocated to Environment

• 2.6 percent allocated to General Government

• 0.6 percent allocated to the Legislature/Governor

• 7.5 percent allocated to Public Safety

• 14.1 percent allocated for transportation and economic development.

• The governor's proposed budget requests an allocation of $21.5 billion for education (31.1 percent of his budget proposal) and $28.4 billion for health and human services (41.1 percent of his budget proposal). As you can see, 72.2 percent of next year's budget as proposed by the governor is for the state's two core missions.

The governor's budget outlines his paramount concerns about ensuring Floridians are finding gainful employment and striving to make businesses stronger. The governor is proposing a 1 percent reduction on the corporate income tax rate on the first $1 million of a corporation's taxable income while also providing for a 10-day back to school sales tax holiday as in previous years. This tax holiday, according to the governor, will help Florida's families save on school essentials such as clothing and supplies while also stimulating the economy.

The governor's proposed budget places a strong emphasis on funding education, with an estimated $22.7 billion to be allocated for Pre-K-12 education and a 2.61 percent increase for public per-student funding. He is also calling for increased funding for community colleges and universities. His budget also calls for continued funding for the continued steady decrease of Florida's prison population, while also looking to preserve Florida's abundant natural resources.

His optimism about Florida's economic future is one to admire, and I commend him for his continued dedication to education and health and human services. While his budget is certainly fiscally optimistic with the inclusion of an unconfirmed $1 billion in aid from the federal government and $400 million from a gambling compact, we in the Florida House must continue to be more diligent in our concentrated efforts on ensuring the budget is balanced fairly and properly the first time. If this is not accomplished, we risk having to reduce the budget mid-year and possibly causing disruptions in certain programs and agencies.

It is important to remember that the key to Florida's economic recovery will be jobs, jobs, jobs. I, along with my colleagues in the Florida House, will continue to focus on job creation and economic development during the legislative session. I welcome your feedback. If you are interested in learning more about the governor's proposed budget or have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 407-884-2023. As always, it is an honor to serve you.

—State Rep. Bryan Nelson