50 Years Since the Moon Landing / Support CPRIT Funding in November / ICYMI: Session Wrap-Up

Click here to read my 86th Session Wrap-Up


“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
John F. Kennedy, at Rice University on September 12, 1962

NASA’s Saturn V rocket launched the Apollo 11 astronauts towards the moon on July 16, 1969. (Image: © NASA)

One Giant Leap for Mankind

This week, America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission when the first human landed on the moon. I still remember where I was when we landed on the moon. I was a 7-year-old kid at Camp Manison in Friendswood, Texas, just a few miles from the then-called Manned Space Center. We were all sitting cross-legged on the concrete floor as we gathered around the small black-and-white television to watch what would become a defining moment for our generation: Neil Armstrong risking his life to set foot on the moon. I realized something very important that night: no matter how steep the challenge or how large the obstacles, we can do anything when we commit our minds and resources.We don’t have to stop at going to the moon – there are still many frontiers left. If we can figure out how to go to the moon, then surely we can figure out how to solve the challenges back here on Earth. There are so many frontiers left to cover: tackling poverty, expanding access to healthcare, and improving our education systems. We can even cure cancer if we put out minds to it.

In the pre-digital age, NASA employed a large number of Black female mathematicians as “human computers” who were critical in planning the successful space program, like Katherine Johnson (pictured above).

That is why I am proud that I have committed my last 28 years to public service, and trying to solve issues relating to poverty, healthcare, education, and cancer. Like the moon landing, Texas is playing a vital role in curing cancer.

In 2007, the Texas Legislature created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the voters approved $3 billion in bonding authority to fund CPRIT for 10 years. In 2007, while debating the enabling legislation on the House floor, I successfully amended the bill to:
increase funding for cancer prevention treatment by $15 million a year;
-ensure that CPRIT grant recipients purchase goods and services from historically under utilized businesses (HUBs);
expand the mission of CPRIT to include studies, prevention, and treatment of lung cancer;
ensure people of color are appointed to the research and prevention program committees
.Since its formation, the CPRIT has made a tremendous impact on cancer research and prevention in the state of Texas, including helping fund the work of Dr. James Allison who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine last year for his work in developing new cancer treatments. Additionally, thanks in part to CPRIT, cancer death rates have dropped by nine percent between 2010 and 2015 (the latest data available) – nearly 10,707 averted deaths. Additionally, every $1 spent through CPRIT for screening and prevention leads to $24.04 in treatment cost-savings, preserved productivity, and other economic benefits through earlier detection of cancers.

The original $3 billion in bonds used to fund CPRIT is now running out. That is why this session I was proud to joint author HJR 12 by Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond). HJR 12 will authorize another $3 billion in bonds to be sold to continue to fund CPRIT. Like in 2007, the final decision on the funding will be up to you the voters this November. I strongly encourage you to vote for additional CPRIT funding this November.

What To Watch This Week:

Our video of the week is from this Sunday’s press conference after the 2019 Wimbledon. Legendary athlete Serena Williams was asked to comment on fellow tennis icon Billie Jean King’s recent remarks that if Williams wants to win another championship, she should focus more on tennis and less on all the other things she’s doing, including “trying to help gender equity, particularly for women of color.” Serena responded, “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”

You can watch below or click here.


Cartoon of the Week


Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “Rocket Man” by Elton John.

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