Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NEWS UPDATE - New RECA Amendment Bill To Be Submitted To The Senate

NEWS UPDATE:   To all who have been eagerly awaiting news regarding any potential changes to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program:  Margaret (my assistant) spoke with representatives from the offices of Senator Mark Udall (Colorado) and Senator Tom Udall (New Mexico) who intend to co-sponsor a new bill, along with Senator Mike Crapo (Idaho) to be introduced to the Senate sometime in April, 2011.  This bill will be similar to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2010, and will have additional suggested changes to the program.

Stay tuned for the most recent updates, and an overview of the bill itself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Stories of Downwinders: Roberta Larsen

Meet 63-year-old Roberta Larsen**—retired waitress, grandmother of five, and lifelong resident of Northern Arizona.  She is known throughout her community for her generosity, her love of animals, and her blackberry pies.  You may have seen her on a summer day, brewing sun tea on her patio or tending to her trophy tomato plants.

In 2009, Roberta and her family received some of the worst news of their lives: Roberta was diagnosed with breast cancer after noticing pronounced pain and swelling in her left breast.  The Larsens were devastated…What if Roberta didn’t live to see her youngest daughter’s wedding or the birth of her next grandchild?  How would she cope with the stress and difficulty of the treatment process?  How could the family ever pay off the mountain of medical bills? 

Fortunately, after receiving a mastectomy and completing a chemotherapy regimen, Roberta went into remission.  She was fatigued, underweight, and thousands of dollars in debt, but overjoyed to be alive. 

As her life slowly began to return to normal, Roberta realized she might qualify for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.  Growing up, she had only been vaguely aware of the aboveground atmospheric nuclear tests being conducted in the Southwest, but over the years, she had met many local people who had become seriously ill from the fallout.  She knew that a number of these people had successfully filed claims with the Department of Justice and decided to try filing her own claim.

Optimistic about the prospect of compensation but overwhelmed by the claims process, Roberta contacted our office.  Touched by her story, we happily took her on as a client. 

I am pleased to write that after seven long months of filling out paperwork, collecting documentation, and dealing with the Department of Justice, we have landed Roberta a $50,000 settlement.  Roberta’s settlement will help significantly with her medical bills, allowing her to continue enjoying her retirement free from the anxiety of massive debt. 

Congratulations, Roberta, from everyone at the Law Offices of Laura J. Taylor.  Here’s to your health and happiness!

(**name has been changed for confidentiality purposes)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Happened?

What happened to all those pending bills that were supposed to make the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program better?  Sadly, all of those proposed (described in my April 11, 2010 blog post) changes have "died in committee."

What exactly does this mean? Well, when a bill is introduced in Congress, it is assigned to a committee--a group that reviews bills dealing with a certain topic, for instance, education, finance, or homeland security.  Many bills never make it out of the committee to which they are assigned. In some cases, a committee simply fails to act on a given bill. When this occurs, the bill is said to have "died in committee," and it never becomes a law.

The six bills that were introduced in the House and in the Senate never made it out of committee, so Congress chose not to make any changes to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 2010.  So where do we go from here? In order to get Congress to once again consider making much-needed improvements to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, we need a Congressperson (or Congresspersons) to reintroduce the bills. If want change, as I know so many of you do, you must take an active role in this process by writing to or calling your Representative or Senators.

You can find your Representative's contact information by following the instructions at https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.

Your Senators' contact information can be found at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=last_name&Sort=ASC.

Finally, if you'd like some advice on writing an effective letter to a Congressperson, here is a helpful link:

Have a great week!