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April 11, 2008

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CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, April 11 - Monday, April 14, 2008 - 9 Bill to make cancer data public has Sussex support By Kevin Spence Cape Gazette staff Information about cancer clus- ters, a household name for those living near the Indian River power plant, might be disclosed soon after an Elsmere senator sponsored a measure to make the information public, Senate Majority Whip Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, introduced Senate Bill 235, Wednesday, April 9, to allow the public and perhaps, more importantly, medical researchers access to cancer data. State officials already maintain a database detailing cancer cases diagnosed in the state, and the measure would require cancer incidence rates be made public through census tracts - holding back names of those with the dis- ease. Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, co-sponsored the bilI. "I think it's good for the whole state to locate if there's a troubled spot that will show us graphically. It will alert us to the health of our air and our water," said Simpson. He, too, signed the bill April 9. "The Ifidian River power plant, I think that's the whole stimulus," Simpson said. He said he was not sure if Blevins' constituents prompted her to move ahead with the measure, too, but he applaud- ed her efforts to move. it forward. "I certainly heard and looked at some of the numberS Dr. Kim Furtado has provided," he said. Furtado is a Sussex County doc- tor who has studied cancer-caus- ing agents near the plant for years. As long as cancer patient identifies can be kept secret, Rep. Pete Schw.artkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, supports the measure. "Statistical data, I think, is espe- cially important in the area where the people have great concern Legislative [ 00date about the power plant down there. Informed decisions come from statistical data," he said. Delaware has traditionally had one of the nation's highest cancer rates and according to federal sta- tistics, between 2000 and 2004, the state had the 1 lth highest can- cer death rate in the nation. Democratic gubernatorial can- didates weighed in on the meas- ure. For Lt. John Carney, a change in reporting the informa- tion is necessary. "While there are some reasons for the slowness of the state's response, we need to change the way we do business," said Carney. "A more open gov- ernment response is the first step to addressing the challenges of cancer clusters that might be iden- tified in Delaware." State Treasurer Jack Markell said S.B. 235 might make it easi- er to fight the disease, but he cau- tioned privacy must be protected. "We must do everything we can as a state to fight cancer and reduce the incidence of this horri- ble disease. Sharing this informa- tion with the public in a way that protects patients' privacy is the right thing to do and will help our long-term efforts to reduce the environmental causes of cancer," said Markell. Del Tech tax increase unpopular downstate A measure to increase the real estate transfer has been met large- ly with disapproval by local legis- lators - most saying the increase would further draw down the economy in the Cape Region. House Bill 293, sponsored by Vincent Lofink, R-Bear, was introduced Jan. 17, and is sitting in the House Education Committee. The act increases the real estate transfer tax by .28 per- cent to increase funds for Delaware Technical & Community College. H.B. 293 is a companion bill to Senate Bill 167, which creates the communi- ty college infrastructure fund. If passed, the measure would increase the tax from $3 to $3.28 for every hundred dollars of the total amount of property sold in the state. Although the bill is still in a House committee, Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford says it won't pass. "If I had to guess, it'll be dead right in the water. You've got a downturn in the economy. I think that's one of the biggest rea- sons. Why would you do anything that would stifle sales and resalesT' Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D- Rehoboth Beach, simply 'said, "No, absolutely not. We have a real estate market down here and it's down. It doesn't make sense at this time." Rep. Joe Booth, R- Georgetown, who hails from a town with a Del Tech campus, said it should be looked into, but sales from affordable housing should be exempt. "It has some heavyweight support. Both Lofink and Venables are chairmen of the bill. I think we should look at the numbers. Del Tech is a very valuable resource," he said. President of the Sussex County Association of Realtors Bill Lucks is dead set against it. "That, I think, needs to be opposed great- ly by everyone because that would slow real estate down even lower. Delaware is among the highest in the nation among trans- fer taxes. There are other sources out there to help," said Lucks. Paramedic plates? Good idea, says Booth Rep. Joe Booth, R-Georgetown, introduced a bill March 19, that would create special license plates for paramedics. House Bill 342 was moved out of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee Wednesday, April 9, and Booth said it's more useful than a vanity plate. "This particu- lar license plate I think would be helpful. Let's say if you were to walk up to a ballgame with this tag, 'If there's a doctor in the house,' they would have a better chance knowing if someone from EMS was there," he said. "We have a lot of special groups out there; .I have no objection to the specialized plates," said Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. 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