Protect Your Skin – August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

August 17, 2017 | Issue #696

 

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to spreading information on the causes, types, and treatments for this skin disease that affects thousands of Americans. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches on the skin. These skin lesions are a result of abnormally quick skin cell growth causing a build-up of skin. Psoriasis typically develops on the hands, feet, knees, scalp, face, and lower back. Dermatologists perform a skin examination to determine the diagnosis of psoriasis. This skin condition is not contagious.

 

The exact causes of psoriasis are still unknown. Doctors have recently identified about 25 genetic variants that have been linked to the development of psoriasis, though. About 1/3 of people with psoriasis have a family member who also suffers from this skin condition. If one parent has psoriasis, the child has a 10% chance of developing it. If both parents have psoriasis, the child has a 50% chance of developing psoriasis. Other factors that contribute to development of this skin disease include a weakened/damaged immune system or injuries, known as triggers. In children, psoriasis has been linked with health problems like strep throat and injuries to the skin. Psoriasis can also be triggered by diabetes, heart disease, depression, stress, and certain medications. Some breakouts have been attributed to allergies, diet/food, and weather, as well.

 

There are 5 forms of psoriasis. The most common form is plaque psoriasis. These skin lesions are often itchy and painful. Another form that usually appears in childhood, especially after the child has had strep throat, is Guttate. This type of psoriasis is the second most common. Types 3 and 4 include Inverse psoriasis and Pustular psoriasis. The most severe form of psoriasis is Erythrodermic psoriasis. This form spreads quickly and is very painful. If untreated, it can even be life threatening. Thankfully only a small percentage of the population suffer from this form.

 

The severity of psoriatic outbreaks is determined by the amount of skin affected and how the lesions affect the individual’s quality of life. If the individual has less than 3% of their body affected, they are considered to have a mild case of psoriasis. Moderate psoriasis covers between 3-10% of the body. More than 10% skin affected by psoriasis abrasions is severe. For quality of life, the individual is highly encouraged to learn to reduce stress and manage their want to itch. People with psoriasis are more likely to become depressed, as well. Which can cause burdens on relationships and the individual’s work life (i.e. missing work because of doctor appointments).

Several treatments have been developed since the late 1970s. The method of treatment is often determined by the type of psoriasis and where the affected skin is located. There is not a one-fits-all treatment for psoriasis. There are several topical creams, injections/shots, prescription drugs/oral medications, and light/phototherapy options. Many people who suffer from psoriasis are prescribed a combination of the treatment methods to greatly reduce or eliminate the lesions.

 

Psoriasis is a common skin disease that is noncontagious and treatable. Continuously spreading the facts and making your peers aware of this disease can help people recognize the signs of breakouts (on themselves) and potentially help those who suffer from this disease have a better quality of life. To learn more about psoriasis, please visit http://www.psoriasis.org.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

August 10, 2017 | Issue #695

 

August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) awareness month. Organizations like Cure SMA work diligently to educate the public about this genetically-passed disease that is the leading cause of death of infants up to 2 years of age. 1 in 50 Americans, despite gender or race, can be a carrier of this recessive gene. Being informed and spreading knowledge on the probability, risks, and effects of this disease is helpful in family planning and the pursuit of finding a cure.

 

SMA is caused by a mutation of the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) that is responsible for muscle development necessary to walk, eat, and/or breathe. This recessive (non-dominant) gene affects nerves with the spinal cord that is responsible for producing the protein necessary for normal muscle growth. When the SMN1 gene is mutated, it hinders muscle development and causes the nerves within the muscles to die. Since SMA only affects physical development, it is hard to recognize if newborn has this disease until they do not meet the typical developmental milestones.

 

There are four types of SMA. Each type is based on the age of the individual affected, the onset of muscular atrophy (lose), and the highest milestone achieved. Type I is typically diagnosed within the first 6 months of a child’s life. This is the most severe form of SMA. It is also the most common form of SMA, accounting for 60% of all SMA cases. When these babies’ muscle development is debilitated, they suffer from the inability to swallow or breathe due to respiratory failure. And may lead to death. The onset of Type II SMA is usually between 6 months to 18-24 months of age. Children who suffer from this form of SMA are only slightly impaired. Those affected can sit up on their own, but do not meet the developmental milestones for motor (walking) skills. This causes them to need a wheelchair. SMA Type III is diagnosed after the child is 18 months old and up to 3 years old. These individuals may meet the typical milestones for walking, but will lose this ability over time. This also can require them to use a wheelchair. The rarest form of SMA is Type IV. This type will not affect the person until they are 35 years old (some cases as early as 18 years old). Type IV SMA results in only mild motor impairment.

 

SMA is not preventable, but knowing if you and your significant other is a carrier of the SMA gene can be helpful during family planning. The cost of caring for an infant who suffers from SMA is between $260,000 and $3 million and often require 24/7 care. SMA screening is available through blood tests. There are also options for prenatal testing.

The SMA community recently celebrated a huge breakthrough thanks to their efforts to raise awareness and funds. This past December, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a treatment for SMA called SPINRAZA (Nusinersen). The first approved therapy for those who have this genetic mutation! To learn more about this treatment option please visit http://www.curesma.org/spinraza/. If you would like to learn more about SMA overall, please visit http://www.curesma.org/sma/.  Let’s continue to bring awareness to/education of SMA to the public in hopes of continuous breakthroughs in treatments and heathy babies.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

Medical Alert Awareness Month

August 3, 2017 | Issue #694

 

The month of August is Medic Alert Awareness Month. For over 60 years, the MedicAlert Foundation International (MAFI) has customized jewelry for people who suffer from life threatening medical conditions. Dr. Marion Collins established MAFI after his daughter, Linda, nearly died of a severe allergic reaction during a simple non-life threatening medical procedure. Soon after, the Collins’ family came up with the idea of inscribing Linda’s medical condition on a bracelet, rather than attaching a note to her coat everywhere she went without her parents. Today, these medical alert bracelets, necklaces, and shoe tags help save millions of lives across the world annually. This month is dedicated to educating everyone about these medical alert bracelets to prevent another situation like Linda’s from occurring.

 

In emergency situations, good samaritans and first responders must assess a situation and react quickly as best as they can with little to no information on what has caused the emergency (i.e. when a person collapses suddenly and/or becomes unresponsive). MedicAlert bracelets are designed to clearly state what medical conditions a person suffers from. These medical conditions include: food or drug allergies; anaphylaxis shock; asthma; cardiac problems; hypertension; epilepsy or seizures; has a pacemaker; diabetes; risk of stroke; lung disease (like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder—COPD); cancer; dialysis; multiple sclerosis; on blood thinners (Coumadin Warfarin); has anemia or a blood disorder(s); suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; Autism; child with special needs; & do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.

 

In addition to stating what medical issue the victim may be suffering from, MAFI provides a 24/7 Emergency Response phone number on their identification jewelry. By calling that phone number, you will be able to receive information on the victim’s: current medications and the dosage; previous medical and surgery information (i.e. concussion, stroke, etc.); access to emergency contacts (family members); their primary care physician’s contact information; if they have implanted medical devices; advance directives; and more.   Knowing this information can significantly assist you in your response to the individual and help expedite response from medical personnel once they arrive. MedicAlert bracelets have decreased medical errors by almost 50%, as well.

MAFI is a non-profit, charitable organization that partners with organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association/Go Red for Women, American Hospital Association, Emergency Nurses Association, and many more to provide those in need with proper identification jewelry. MAFI also provides free training materials (like sample identification tags) to help first responders, and anyone else interested, have a better understanding of these medical alert tags. These can be found by visiting https://www.medicalert.org/proportal/training_materials.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

 

Freedom of Information: Knowledge is Power

July 27, 2017 | Issue #693

 

Since the early 1970s, the State of Texas has operated under the “Texas Public Information Act” (TPIA). The policies within the TPIA exist to ensure that Texans have access to information about their public officials and government decisions/operations. The Texas Legislature is a form of representative government that allows Texans to elect legislators to represent them and their interests in the Legislative Sessions. Transparency of the government enables Texas citizens to hold their elected officials and government accountable. As a result, Section 552.002(a) within the TPIA requires the Texas Attorney General to provide transparency on: “information that is written, produced, collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business”. There have been many improvements to the TPIA over the years, but there is still work to be done.

 

The purpose of the TPIA is to ensure the right/freedom of all Texans to access information. As the Preamble of the TPIA states: “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.” Entities that are subject to the TPIA include: “a board, commission, department, committee, institution, agency, or office that is within or is created by the executive or legislative branch of state government and that is directed by one or more elected or appointed members; a county commissioners court in the state; a municipal governing body in the state; a deliberative body that had rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a country or municipality; a school district board of trustees; a county board of education”, as well as, private entities supported by public funds and several more.

 

During the 85th Legislative Session, several bills were introduced to close loopholes and further open-government policies. I filed House Bill (HB) 2710 which would have reinstated dates of birth of governmental officials and officers as public information and restored Texans’ ability to access this information in governmental records. This bill would have simply ensured individuals with common names were not confused with each other. I also filed HB 2670 in hopes of closing a loophole of secrecy by preventing officials from hiding public documents on their private devices. HB 2670 would clarify a 2013 law that said public business, even if it is conducted on private electronic devices or in private email accounts, is public record.

 

Other bills that were filed to strengthen transparency by amending/re-wording current policies that were impacted by judicial rulings. Senate bill (SB) 407/ House Bill (HB) 792 were introduced to a fix to a loophole that allowed businesses and governmental entities to withhold information from the public since it potentially put the businesses at a slight competitive disadvantage. SB 408/HB 793 would have closed a large loophole by redefining when a private entity supported by public funds (like a local non-profit organization or chamber of commerce) must comply with transparency laws. This would have resulted in the re-establishment of the public’s right to know how their taxes are being spent.

Most open-government/transparency reform bills, like the bills explained above, did not make it through the legislative process. The Texas legislature however passed and Governor Abbott signed Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 56 into law. This resolution requires the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House to establish a Joint Interim Committee (JIC) to thoroughly assess all state open-government/transparency laws. This committee is to look for opportunities for improvement in transparency and accountability in the current open-government laws. When the 86th Legislature convenes, in January of 2019, the JIC will present a comprehensive report of their findings and recommendations for legislation. We hope to pass some very good transparency laws based on this report.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

Soon to Come: Back to School & Tax Free Weekend

July 20, 2017 | Issue #692

 

The beginning of the 2017-2018 school year is around the corner! We want everyone to know about an event soon to be here. To help students prepare for their next step in their education, the Texas Legislature deemed August 11th-13th as the “Sales Tax Holiday” for 2017. This legislation creates an annual exemption of taxes for essential items like clothing, footwear, and a large variety of school supplies priced less than $100. The tax exemption applies to all purchases made in-store, online, mail, or over the phone in Texas for these three days only. As in previous years, shoppers can utilize layaway plans to help prepare for this weekend of savings—i.e. Save $8 per $100 spent on back-to-school necessities.

 

For nearly two decades, the Texas Legislature has been helping Texans save money as they prepare their children and college students for the upcoming school year. Overall, back-to-school spending is estimated to reach over $83 million this year, according to the National Retail Federation; which is the second-highest spending level on record since 2003. The average family spends over $600 on the essentials for their children. The Sales Tax Holiday will continue to produce tangible cost savings for these families.

There is a plethora of items that are tax exempt during this three-day sale. There are restrictions to note, though. For example, majority of everyday clothing and shoe wear are tax exempt, unless the items are specifically intended for athletic use (i.e. swim wear, sports padding, weight lifting belts, and cleats). For a comprehensive list on what is and is not tax exempt for clothing and footwear, please visit https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/clothing-footwear.php.

 

Certain backpacks are not tax exempt. A backpack is defined as “a pack with straps one wears on the back”, which includes backpacks with wheels that can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack. Items that do not qualify as backpacks include: luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks.

The school supplies that qualify as tax-free for this particular weekend include: binders, tape, notebooks, composition books, legal pads, copy/graph/tracing/manila/colored/construction paper, poster boards, and other writing tablets. Other necessities like crayons, highlighters, pens, pencils, scissors, and rulers are include, as well. Calculators and lunch boxes are also the tax-exempt! For a complete list of items eligible, please visit: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/school-supplies.php.

August 11-13th is still a few weeks away, but families can pre-plan their Sales Tax Holiday purchases well ahead of time through qualifying layaway and raincheck programs. Consumers may gather their qualifying items in advance and place them on either of these programs. Please note that the final payment for these items must be made within the three-day holiday! For further information or details about the Sales Tax Holiday, please visit the Texas Comptroller’s website at https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/.

 

July 18th, 2017 is the start of the Texas Special Session for the Legislature. We will keep everyone updated.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

2017 Hurricane Season: Tropical Update

July 13, 2017 | Issue #691

 

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st and will conclude on November 30th. Within the first two months, the United States (US) has already experienced “named” tropical storms and hurricane activity (i.e. Tropical Storm Arlene, Tropical Storm Bret, and Tropical Storm Cindy). Meteorologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are estimating an increase in the tropical cyclone activity during this year’s hurricane season.

 

The warmth of the water in the Atlantic is what has raised the concerns of NOAA and other meteorologists since these conditions have, historically, led to an increase in tropical cyclones.  Tropical cyclones are a rotating organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originate over tropical or subtropical waters, have a closed low-level circulation and rotate counterclockwise. Not all tropical cyclones produce hurricanes. NOAA defines a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38mph or less as tropical depressions. A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39-73mph. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with wind speeds of 74mph or higher and a major hurricane has a maximum sustained wind speed of 111mph or more.

 

NOAA believes there is a 45% chance of an above-normal rate of hurricane activity and only a 20% chance of a below-normal season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms. Typically, 6 of these develop in hurricanes with winds exceeding 74mph or higher and three develop into major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5) with winds exceeding 111mph. NOAA estimates a total of 11 to 17 named storms in the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Of these, they predict 5 to 9 of these storms could become hurricanes and 2 to 4 could become major hurricanes. NOAA has published a list of potential names for the estimated tropical cyclones this season. These names include: Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

 

To keep up with potential storms throughout hurricane season, visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/. The National Hurricane Center provides several resources to keep you up-to-date. For tips on how to stay prepared during this hurricane season, please visit: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane; http://www.texasprepares.org/; https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes; and https://www.dps.texas.gov/dem/ThreatAwareness/helpfulWebLinks.htm.

The upcoming Special Session will give the Texas Legislature the ability and time to address the twenty distinctive issues the Governor has identified. Within those thirty days, we will work diligently to ensure the State is taken care of and protected. If you would like to stay informed on what occurs during the Special Session beginning July 18th, please visit: capitol.state.tx.us.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

- State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

New Laws in Texas to Prevent Violence

July 6, 2017 | Issue #690

 

Prior to the 85th Legislative Session, the frequency of domestic violence cases increased in the Coastal Bend. Several local organizations and my office worked diligently to create new laws to help protect victims and end domestic violence. The Texas Legislature passed some new laws. The following three laws will be highlighted.

 

One issue addressed was the duration of protective orders for victims of domestic violence. Currently, the longest protective order a victim can obtain lasts up to two years.

To receive this protection, the offender that the victim is seeking protection from must have two prior protective orders or if the offender caused serious bodily injury to the victim. We amended the current statute to allow judges to extend the length of protective orders and changed the requirements, as well. Beginning September 1st, 2017, a victim may receive a protective order if their attacker committed a felony offense involving family violence (like aggravated assault or destruction of property) against the person applying’s (victim’s) family or household, regardless of whether the attacker has been charged with or convicted of the offense at the time of the application. This law helps protect the victims of domestic violence as they are going through the court process. If you are interested in more information on this bill, visit: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=SB712

Protecting the victims of domestic violence involves physical protection and protection of their information. Until this bill was passed, victims’ home addresses were not required to be classified as confidential, causing victims’ information to be published in public records (like property tax appraisal records or voter registration rolls). This loophole enabled offenders to track down, stalk, or even harm their victims again. To address this loophole, the Address Confidentially Program was created. Beginning September 1st, 2017, the home address of any person eligible for a protective order for family violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking can be classified as confidential within tax appraisal and voter registration records. To learn more about this legislation, visit: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=SB256

 

Domestic violence, also known as family violence, affects not only adults, but children, too. For example, violence can occur during child custody exchanges. To protect the children and prevent further victimization, we increased the number of hours of family education in the fields of: family dynamics, child development, and family law. If these courses are completed, a person may be appointed as an impartial third party caregiver during custody cases where the parent-child relationship is in question. This legislation will take effect on September 1st, 2017. To learn more about this bill, please visit: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=SB539

 

 The upcoming Special Session will give the Texas Legislature the ability and time to address the twenty distinctive issues the Governor has identified. Within those thirty days, we will work diligently to ensure the State is taken care of and protected. If you would like to stay informed on what occurs during the Special Session beginning July 18th, please visit: capitol.state.tx.us.

 

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 

 

Coastal Bend Colleges Focus on Coastal Studies

June 29, 2017 | Issue #689

 

In the Coastal Bend area, we have excellent higher education institutions that educate students on coastal issues, coastal studies and coastal habitats. These higher institutions include Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC), University of Texas Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas (UTMSI), and Del Mar College (DMC).

 TAMUCC has an array of degree programs within their Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences (PENS) for all levels of education. These programs focus on all environmental aspects that help our ecosystem not only survive, but flourish. The undergraduate (Bachelors) programs include: Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Geology. Graduate (Masters) degrees include: Coastal and Marine Science System and Environmental Science. A Doctoral degree in Coastal and Marine System Sciences is available, too. Students studying within PENS have unique research opportunities since TAMUCC collaborates with the Center for Water Supply Studies, the Isotope Core Laboratory, and the Weather Observatory. The Harte Research Institute, known for their impactful research of the Gulf of Mexico, is located on the TAMUCC campus, as well. Further information on TAMUCC’s PENS programs can be found at: http://sci.tamucc.edu//PENS/index.html.

  The UTMSI College of Natural Sciences was established in Port Aransas, Texas in 1941. This university is deemed Texas’ oldest and most significant institution for marine research of our coast. Their Department of Marine Science offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology; as well as, Master of Science and a Doctorate degree in Marine Science. The Department of Marine Science is the academic counterpart of the Marine Science Institute; which gives these students outstanding opportunities to research topics including: oil spills, fish migration, biodiversity, land-ocean linkages, climate change, red tide, and many more! To learn more of the available degree programs at UTMSI, please visit: https://utmsi.utexas.edu/academics.

  DMC offers very good Associate degree programs in over 140 occupational fields. Degrees and certificates programs offered at DMC that pertain to coastal wellness/studies include: Geology, Biology, Chemistry, and Biotechnology. DMC also offers a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) degree. This program educates their students on how to utilize software to create maps, graphs, charts, data, etc. These programs are commonly used in the design and continued function of hurricane evacuation routes, maps of landscapes and the natural details (i.e. low spots subject to flooding on the land), etc. Please visit http://www.delmar.edu/Degrees.aspx to learn more about the available degrees and certificate programs.

 Each of these institutions of higher education in the Coastal Bend offer phenomenal academic programs and hands-on research opportunities. These programs regarding our coastal habitats, coastal studies and coastal wellness are excellent educational opportunities for all adults. Who wouldn’t want to study the Gulf of Mexico while living directly on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico?

 The upcoming Special Session will give the Texas Legislature the start time to review and address the issues that the Governor has identified. If you would like to stay informed on what occurs during the Special Session beginning July 18th, please visit: capitol.state.tx.us.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

June 22, 2017 | Issue #688

 

The month of June is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. More than 5 million Americans suffer from this disease. About 360,000 of those who are affected by this live in Texas. The Department of Human and Health Services recently estimated that a new case of Alzheimer’s disease develops every 66 seconds. This month is dedicated to educating our nation on the affects, symptoms, and treatments this potentially deadly disease has on our citizens.

Dementia is a general medical term used to diagnose memory loss or other mental abilities that is severe enough to intrude on the individual’s daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases that significantly affect the person’s memory, thinking, and/or behavior.

People typically develop Alzheimer’s around their mid-60s. This disease is not a normal part of aging, though. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by multiple factors including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and/or other medical conditions like high blood pressure.

  Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include a decrease in cognitive functions like difficulty thinking and understanding, confusion, delusion, disorientation, forgetfulness/repetitive, inability to create new memories, and/or the inability to do simple math or remember common things. Behavioral and mood changes like difficulty with self-care, agitation, aggression, irritability are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, as well. This disease can also affect physical mobility and control of the individual in the later stages of the disease.

 There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but treatment options are available. Treatment options include medication and management systems. Medication and physical exercise programs are aimed at improving mental function by encouraging better blood flow/lower blood pressure and improving their mood balance. Specialists like Occupational Therapists, Geriatrician, Neurologists, Psychiatrists, etc. have developed programs to treat the varying symptoms.

 The Alzheimer’s disease is developing more rapidly than before. Educating ourselves on prevention and early diagnoses of this disease can help us improve the lives of family and friends. For more information on the Alzheimer’s disease, please visit these websites: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/alzheimers/default.shtm, http://www.alz.org, and https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.

 The upcoming Special Session will give the Texas Legislature the ability and time to address the twenty distinctive issues the Governor has identified. Within those thirty days, we will work diligently to ensure the State is taken care of and protected. If you would like to stay informed on what occurs during the Special Session beginning July 18th, please visit: capitol.state.tx.us.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May 25, 2017

The month of May is nationally recognized as Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Awareness month. Throughout the month, the American Academy of Dermatology and several organizations, like the American Cancer Society and Skin Cancer Foundation, work diligently to educate the nation on the risks, the warning signs, and how to reduce your risk of contracting skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States (US). Skin cancer is the unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells that cause uncontrolled abnormal growth of the cells. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV)  radiation from the sun or sunlamps. There are three main forms of skin cancer. Basal and Squamous cell skin cancers are the most common forms. Melanoma is the least common, of the three, but most deadly form. Other forms of skin cancer include Merkel cell, Kaposi Sarcoma, and lymphoma of the skin.

Protecting yourself from UV rays daily can highly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. UV rays reach the ground daily. Limit or avoid direct exposure to the UV rays; especially when they are the strongest. You can determine the strength of the UV rays through the shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun's rays are the strongest. One way to accomplish this is to seek shade, inside a building or under a tree. If you will be in sun, wear protective clothing. The most protective clothing options are darker long-sleeved shirts, pants, long skirts, etc. Where your skin is exposed, apply sunscreen. When choosing sunscreen, be sure to read the labels for type of protection and how to properly apply the product. Factors to look for in protective sunscreens include: broad spectrum protection, sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher, and water/sweat resistant.

Early detection of skin cancer increases the likelihood of success of treatments to remove the cancer. Knowing the different signs and symptoms of skin cancer will aid in quick detection. Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC) are cancerous cells that usually develop on the areas regularly exposed to UV rays. Some of the warning signs and symptoms of these skin cancers include: flat, firm, pale or yellow areas that look like a scar; raised, itchy, reddish patches on the skin; small, pink/red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps that may have bruising around it; pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in their center; wart-like growths; and open sores that do not heal or are reoccurring. Melanoma skin cancer usually appear as new spot (i.e. mole, blemish, sore, or marking) on the skin or a spot that changes in size, color, or shape. Other warning signs of Melanoma include: a sore that does not heal; spread of pigment from the border of a spot; redness or swelling beyond the border of a spot; change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain; change in the surface of a spot like scaliness, bleeding, or appearance.

Examining your skin at least once a month can help with early detection. This can be accomplished at home  or by a doctor. You can find helpful tips on how to self-examine your skin at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/skin-exams.html.

Educating ourselves and our communities can help reduce the rate of skin cancer cases.  To learn more about skin cancer overall, please visit the following websites: https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/types-of-skin-cancer, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer.html, and http://www.skincancer.org/.

We are in the final month of the 85th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Home.aspx. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage (http://www.house.state.tx.us/) and to the Texas Senate homepage (http://www.senate.texas.gov/).

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/MyTLO/Login/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fMyTLO%2fAlerts%2fBills.aspx. You can create a free account by clicking on "New User" underneath the password box. Once you've created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under "bill", you type in the bill number and leave the next box as "any category". This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select "Add Bill".

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week's article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.  Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

 - State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

 Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part).  He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

 

 

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