12-14-2017 Columns

HPV vaccination recommended for boys

 Many people think the HPV vaccine only protects girls, but this vaccine protects boys against certain HPV-related cancers, too! Girls aren’t the only ones affected by HPV, also known as human papillomavirus.  HPV is common in both males and females. Every year, over 9,000 males are affected by cancers caused by HPV infections that don’t go away. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat (oropharynx), and penis in males.

Cases of anal cancer and cancers of the mouth/throat are on the rise. Many of the cancers caused by HPV infection could be prevented by HPV vaccination.

HPV vaccination is recommended by doctors and other health experts for boys at ages 11-12. HPV vaccination of boys is also likely to benefit girls by reducing the spread of HPV infection. HPV vaccine is recommended at ages 11-12 for two reasons: HPV vaccine must be given before exposure to virus for it to be effective in preventing cancers and other diseases caused by HPV; HPV vaccine produces a high immune response at this age.

If you haven’t already vaccinated your preteens and teens, it’s not too late. Ask your child’s doctor at their next appointment about getting HPV vaccine. The series is three shots over six months’ time. Take advantage of any visit to the doctor—such as an annual health checkup or physicals for sports, camp, or college—to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.

Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their doctor or other healthcare professional about Vaccines for Children (VFC). To learn more about the HPV vaccine for your teen boy or girl, visit www.bchdmi.org or call 269-926-7121.

Time to review your investment strategy for the year

 As the year draws to a close, it’s a good time to review your progress toward your financial goals. But on what areas should you focus your attention?

Of course, you may immediately think about whether your investments have done well. When evaluating the performance of their investments for a given year, many people mistakenly think their portfolios should have done just as well as a common market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. But the S&P 500 is essentially a measure of large-company, domestic stocks, and your portfolio probably doesn’t look like that – nor should it, because it’s important to own an investment mix that aligns with your goals, risk tolerance and return objectives. It’s this return objective that you should evaluate over time – not the return of an arbitrary benchmark that isn’t personalized to your goals and risk tolerance.

Your return objective will likely evolve. If you are starting out in your career, you may need your portfolio to be oriented primarily toward growth, which means it may need to be more heavily weighted toward stocks. But if you are retiring in a few years, you may need a more balanced allocation between stocks and bonds, which can address your needs for growth and income.

So, assuming you have created a long-term investment strategy that has a target rate of return for each year, you can review your progress accordingly. If you matched or exceeded that rate this past year, you’re staying on track, but if your return fell short of your desired target, you may need to make some changes. Before doing so, though, you need to understand just why your return was lower than anticipated.

For example, if you owned some stocks that underperformed due to unusual circumstances – and even events such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma can affect the stock prices of some companies – you may not need to be overly concerned, especially if the fundamentals of the stocks are still sound. On the other hand, if you own some investments that have underperformed for several years, you may need to consider selling them and using the proceeds to explore new investment opportunities.

Investment performance isn’t the only thing you should consider when looking at your financial picture over this past year. What changed in your life? Did you welcome a new child to your family? If so, you may need to respond by increasing your life insurance coverage or opening a college savings account. Did you or your spouse change jobs? You may now have access to a new employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401(k), so you’ll need to decide how much money to put into the various investments within this plan. And one change certainly happened this past year: You moved one year closer to retirement. By itself, this may cause you to re-evaluate how much risk you’re willing to tolerate in your investment portfolio, especially if you are within a few years of your planned retirement.

Whether it is the performance of your portfolio or changes in your life, you will find that you always have some reasons to look back at your investment and financial strategies for one year – and to look ahead at moves you can make for the next.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Protecting local retirement benefits

 Our local public servants work tirelessly to help make Southwest Michigan and our entire state a great place to live, work and raise a family. Among them are the local police officers and firefighters who make tremendous sacrifices and often risk their lives to keep our families safe.

The Senate has unanimously passed a package of bills that will better protect and preserve the retirement benefits promised to local workers and retirees.

Local governments have the responsibility to prioritize the funding of these promised pension and retirement health care benefits, which are $18.8 billion underfunded.

Efforts to resolve this problem start with a sound understanding of each local government’s current liability and funding situation.

Senate Bills 686 and 688-699 would implement the recommendations of the governor’s bipartisan Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force, which included legislators, retirement plan experts, local employee union leaders and local government representatives.

The bills create a stress system with reporting for all local governments and steps for those with unfunded liabilities to develop and implement action plans to address their debt.

The goal is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions.

Uniform and consistent reporting by local governments about their benefits will help accurately assess retirement costs to enable communities to know as early as possible if they are in trouble and give them the best chance to resolve the problem before it impacts local workers or retirees.

I want to thank all those who took the time to contact me. Hearing from residents is an important part of the legislative process.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

Improving internet access remains a priority

 Last week, the House Communications and Technology Committee advanced a bill that I introduced, House Bill 5097, which streamlines requirements needed for broadband work in county rights-of-way. Improving internet service across our state is truly a bipartisan issue and I am happy to report that my bill received bipartisan support in committee.

As you may know, county road commissions have jurisdiction over county rights-of-way and require permits, inspections and project reviews due to the close proximity of lines and mains beneath the ground alongside our roadways. Currently, the right-of-way permit requirements vary widely from county to county, creating an arduous process for telecommunication and video service providers. My legislation aims to streamline that process and ensure that bad actors don’t cause delays in broadband projects. In this and other policy areas, working to cut red tape and getting government out of the way of private investment and job creators is important.

The importance of improving internet service quality and speed is something that I consistently hear about from people in our community. With the importance of fast and reliable internet in today’s world, areas that do not have reliable access to high-speed broadband are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to keeping and attracting jobs and residents. We have to level the playing field for those who need these services in rural areas and ensure that government does not present a barrier to that expansion. I can assure you that increasing access to high speed internet in our community remains a priority for me. House Bill 5097 now moves to the full House for consideration.

As always please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance. You can reach my office toll free at 1-800-577-6212 or via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

21st Century Cures one year later

 One year ago this week, President Obama signed into law one of the most consequential bills passed by the 114th Congress: the landmark, bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. He took the occasion of his final public bill-signing to praise the measure as a prime example of how important legislation should be passed: through consultation with stakeholders, deliberation, hearings featuring expert testimony, drafting and redrafting, and a spirit of collegiality and compromise.

When we started the process of crafting 21st Century Cures – or Cures– four years ago, we began with one goal in mind: Helping patients and their families. We were both inspired to act after hearing from folks in the research community as well as patients, families, and advocates who all told us about the need for modernization and more resources at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that the United States could remain the worldwide leader in medical innovation and find the next generation of medical cures and clues.

We heard these stakeholders loud and clear. Cures provides the NIH and FDA with billions of dollars in much-needed resources so that our nation’s best and brightest can work on finding cures for diseases that impact virtually every family. Cures was a truly bipartisan effort from start to finish. This week, we reflect on how far we have come, but also is a reminder that we have much work left to do. Patients and their families are counting on us.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).


P.O. BOX 7


CALL: 269-463-6397
FAX: 269-463-8329

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