Legislative Session To Be Ruled By Budgets, UAB Advocates HPV Vaccine

Feb 1, 2016

Alabama State Capitol

Alabama’s legislative session gets underway tomorrow and the focus, is expected to be on the budget.

The state’s two spending plans were center stage during last year’s session, and lawmakers are expecting another tight year this time around. Many General Fund agencies like the one that handles Medicaid are now asking for more money.

State House member Bill Poole says the General Fund budget will be a challenge for legislators, but he believes agreements will be reached.

“In our General Fund budget appropriations hearings last week, Medicaid asked for a little over $150 million new dollars next year, as compared to this year. You can kind of all anticipate the discussion that’s going to ensue in the legislature, because at this point we just don’t have that kind of revenue.”

Poole chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. He says he is optimistic about the education budget and the possibility of adding money to the General Fund.

Officials at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center are joining other top cancer centers across the country urging more widespread use of the HPV vaccine.

Dr. Warner Huh, director of the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology, says only about 40 percent of 11- and 12-year-olds in the United States receive all three doses of the vaccine. The drug can prevent 90 percent of cervical cancers.

Huh says in Australia, where the vaccine is mandatory and used by more than 75 percent of preteens, doctors have observed a huge drop in abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes about 27,000 new cancer diagnoses each year. The virus also causes genital warts.

High schoolers who want to explore their future career options have a deadline to keep in mind.

Today is the last day to apply for the Career Exploration Summer Camp hosted by The University of West Alabama. The camp is open to rising high school sophomores and juniors who are interested in a two-week-long exploration of new careers and college life.

Program Director Sanquenetta Thompson says it’s important for west Alabama students to be aware of their career options.

“I think that this is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to different careers, and basically to be able to be exposed to college life. And even if some students do not decide to go to college at least they’ll have a better idea of what type of career they want to pursue.”

The camp will be held from June 11 to the 22. It’s free, but applicants have to be from West Central Alabama.

Forecasters say parts of the state could see some severe weather this week.

The National Weather Service says northwest Alabama faces an elevated risk of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes beginning tomorrow afternoon. Forecast models also show a lesser threat of severe weather extending south and east across the state on tomorrow evening.

Meteorologist Jim Stefkovich with the National Weather Service says forecasts can change before tomorrow. But he says the question right now isn’t whether we’ll see severe weather, but how far it will extend eastward across the state.

Weather service maps currently show the possibility of strong storms extending from northern Mississippi all the way north to southern Kentucky.