September 25, 2019
There’s an election this coming November. You’ll have the joy of voting on 10 constitutional amendments. One proposition will cause Texans to scratch our collective noggins and ask, “we really need an amendment for that?” Proposition 10 is “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances”. Huh?
Actually, there’s an argument that we need this. I admit I voted to put it on the ballot. I encourage folks to look at all 10 proposals in detail.
Now you CPRIT, now you don’t
There’s one proposition I’m particularly passionate about. Proposition 6 will authorize the Legislature to continue our state’s investment in what’s known as the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). If you’ve heard me speak about health care or you’ve read the Watson Wire more than a few times, you’re familiar with the role of cancer in my family and its influence on my involvement in public life. I spoke about it on the Senate floor back in May as we passed a resolution declaring it National Cancer Research Awareness month.
One of my proudest achievements from my first session as a baby-senator was helping pass the bill that put the creation of CPRIT before voters. Texans responded to the call to make Texas a leader in the fight to eliminate cancers by authorizing the Legislature to allocate to CPRIT up to $3 billion from bond funding for research and prevention grants. The last of those funds will be allocated in FY 2021.
So this session, House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas and Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson filed legislation to authorize a second round of bond funds. When the bill arrived from the House with overwhelming support but late in the session, Senator Nelson was very busy appropriately focusing her attention on the budget negotiations. She’s passionate about CPRIT and, at her request, I was honored to lead the effort to get at least 2/3rds of the senators on board. In the end, we had unanimous support from the senate, giving Texans the opportunity to approve this proposal on November 5.
Making a difference
Because of CPRIT, Texas is the second largest source of cancer research behind the National Cancer Institute. CPRIT’s a significant funder of screening and prevention programs and a national leader in childhood cancer research. In fact, CPRIT strategically invests 12% of it’s funding portfolio in childhood cancer research – more than 3 times what is invested proportionally at a national level.
CPRIT has already done so much for Texans and the fight against cancer that failing to continue this investment would be a tragedy, not to mention undermine many of the initial investments. More than 19,500 patients are being treated in 132 clinical trials or studies of drugs created by a CPRIT funded researcher.
Locally, a Dell Med pilot program in Travis County, which was supported by a 2018 CPRIT grant, increased colorectal cancer screenings among CommUnityCare patients from 18% to 41%. Last month, three UT Austin researchers received CPRIT grants, including a prevention grant to implement a smoking cessation and lung cancer-screening program similar to the colorectal cancer work. Another grant will help develop nano-sized immunotherapies to treat pediatric brain cancer.
Vote for Prop 6 on November 5th
To continue this great work and the impressive outcomes, we need your help spreading the word that investing in CPRIT is producing results in the fight against cancer. It’s ensuring more Texans identify their personal fight in time to begin meaningful treatment. It’s helping grow Texas life sciences businesses. And it’s helping find cures.
As my mother said during her two decade fight with cancer, “Keep me alive six months, because who knows what I’ll get to see and who knows what they’ll invent to keep me alive another six months.” CPRIT is delivering on the hope inherent in that philosophy.
Vote yes on Proposition 6, November 5, 2019.
And don’t forget October 3rd