From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):
Civil Liberties, Lawful Transportation of Firearms, and Accessing Public Lands
In my column of February 29, I wrote of an amendment I successfully added to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 2406), legislation which protects Second Amendment rights and guarantees Americans ample access to federal lands in order to hunt, fish, and recreationally shoot. My amendment would strengthen federal protections for law-abiding Americans traveling with firearms. More information can be found on my website, www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
As part of Congress’ efforts to return to a more regular order, members of the House were recently selected to serve on the conference committee with the Senate to resolve the differences between House- and Senate-passed energy and natural resource legislation. Among the natural resource bills which will be considered by the conference committee is the SHARE Act. I am hopeful the Senate will not block my amendment to the SHARE Act from passing and being sent to the President as part of what will be the final comprehensive energy and natural resources package.
In my column of May 23, I discussed persistent concerns regarding the Zika virus as well as ongoing Congressional actions to fight the spread of this disease. As you recall, Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but may also be passed from a man with the virus to female or male sex partners. Symptoms may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. However, Zika has also been definitively linked to the microcephaly birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This defect may lead to such issues as seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, issues with movement, balance, feeding, etc. As is outlined at www.cdc.gov, microcephaly may also be life-threatening.
There are ongoing efforts at many levels to try and stop the spread of Zika and learn more about the virus. A recent Roanoke Times article, for example, highlights the work being undertaken by officials in the Commonwealth as well as Virginia Tech scientists on this issue.
Dr. Molly O’Dell, medical director of the New River district of the Virginia Department of Health, emphasizes “dump, drain, and cover” to prevent such commonplace items as gutters, watering cans, flower pot saucers, etc. from becoming a mosquito hatchery.
And the Virginia Tech scientists are in the early stages of advancing technology to render the mosquito incapable of producing.
On top of our efforts outlined in last week’s column and as part of our package of legislation intended to combat the Zika virus, my colleagues and I in the House last week passed the Zika Vector Control Act (H.R. 897), which deals with the regulation of the use of pesticides for control of exotic diseases such as Zika as well as West Nile.
More specifically, as summarized by The Hill, the legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “from requiring permits to spray pesticides near bodies of water as long as the application has been approved by a state and the pesticides themselves are federally approved.”
Also, in last week’s column, I shared my view that folks may wish to be careful when traveling, or that they consider avoiding traveling to areas such as Central or South America where Zika is prevalent. Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) shares these concerns.
Further, according to Roll Call, eleven Democratic Senators wrote to the U.S. Olympic Committee and said, “As proud supporters of the U.S. Olympic team and our outstanding athletes who are preparing to travel to Brazil to participate in the upcoming Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, we write to ask what steps the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is taking to assist and protect our athletes against the spread of the Zika virus.”
As the story details, “Brazil has become ground zero for the Zika virus with more than 91,000 likely cases registered in February and March.”
I remain concerned, but I am hopeful adequate answers will be provided. We must continue working to responsibly and effectively help protect people – Olympic athletes or not – from the spread of the Zika virus.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.