All that was old is new again

Bay Area lawmakers continue to resurrect bills that died in previous Congresses, hoping that having a wider margin of majority in the House and a Democrat in the White House could bring them success this time around.

For example, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, today re-introduced their Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, which would authorize federal funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education; for now, such funding is available only for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which have been shown to exclude important information about contraception as a protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

“It’s time for us to get REAL about sex education,” Lee said in her news release. “We should absolutely be teaching young people about abstinence, but we shouldn’t be holding back information that can save lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead of ‘abstinence only,’ what we’re proposing is ‘abstinence-plus.’”

Lee and Lautenberg first introduced the REAL Act back in 2005, then again in 2007; the bill has never made it out of committee, despite the 2007 versions having 18 Senate cosponsors and 110 House cosponsors.

Elsewhere, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, today introduced H.R. 1546, the Caring for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2009. The bill would establish a special panel within the VA to assess the VA’s current capacity to treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries as well as to make recommendations on developing policies for care and rehabilitation, and also would help establish TBI-specific education and training programs for VA’s health professionals.

“Many of our soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq have experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury. In fact, Traumatic Brain Injuries are the hallmark injuries of this war,” McNerney said in his news release. “It is incumbent on us to ensure that the Veterans Administration is equipped and ready to provide the ongoing services necessary to fully address the impact of traumatic brain injuries.”

McNerney had introduced a similar bill in May 2007; it, too, never made it out of committee.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR

    Don’t parents know anything about sex?