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THI letter to The Members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

March 3, 2014

The Honorable Greg Walden, Chairman, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Anna G. Eshoo,  Ranking Member  Subcommittee on Communications  and Technology  Committee on Energy and Commerce  U.S. House of Representatives  Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo:

The Hispanic Institute works on issues important to the Hispanic community and we are disappointed to see the interests and profits of pay-TV providers coming before the Hispanic consumer.

A proposed change to the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) would give pay-TV providers the freedom to remove broadcast channels from the most affordable option in subscription services, basic tier service. Moreover, a Spanish-speaking household wanting the full range of Spanish language networks may have to subscribe to higher-priced tiers because the provision would give pay-TV providers the freedom to split up these popular channels to maximize their profits. In the Hispanic community, Spanish-language networks not only provide popular programming, but also serve as important community resources and trusted advisors on a wide range of issues from the importance of the Census to the need for Hispanic political participation. And like every other TV viewer in the country, our communities turn to these local channels for up to the minute information on weather conditions and other emergency information. Allowing these changes to basic tier service would make monthly cable bills- already an affordability issue given constant rate hikes-even costlier for Hispanic consumers.

Taxes and Fees: Barriers to Hispanic Connectivity

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2012) – A new report “Taxes and Fees: Barriers to Hispanic Connectivity” released today by The Hispanic Institute calls for Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation that would require uniform tax rules for online purchases of digital goods and wireless phone services.

The report supports passage of the Digital Goods and Services Fairness Act, which would prohibit the imposition of taxes by multiple jurisdictions on the same digital purchase, and the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, which would impose a five-year moratorium on new, discriminatory state or local taxes on mobile services, providers and property.

"Right now, thanks to a regressive patchwork of state and local taxes, Americans are paying more than they should for their phones and the products they buy online," said Gus West, Board Chair of The Hispanic Institute. "This unfair tax burden hits hardest those who can least afford it, including many Hispanics.”

Both measures would deliver significant savings for all Americans, including the many Hispanics who rely heavily on digital devices for employment, education, commercial and other economic and social interactions.  

Read the Full Study [PDF]

Soda Size Cap Cuts Calories Most in Kids, the Overweight, Study Finds

-- by Melissa Healy, The Los Angeles Times:

A day after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Health Department went to court to defend its proposed cap on the sale of super-sized sodas, a published study has offered evidence that Bloomberg's plan would reduce average calorie intake among those most likely to buy large drinks, and would have its greatest effect on overweight and obese kids.

The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, also found that low-income consumers were no more affected by a portion cap than were those of higher income -- a major challenge to opponents of the proposed cap, who have argued it unfairly targets the poor.

The research was published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition...

... At the same time, the finding that low-income consumers pared about the same number of calories from their daily intake as those with higher incomes may undermine an argument mustered by many opponents of soda restrictions or taxes: that such measures restrict poor people's choices but not those of higher-income consumers.

Gus K. West, president of the Washington-based Hispanic Institute, says it's time for that argument to lose its power anyway. In low-income communities and Latino communities disproportionately affected by obesity and diabetes, measures that drive down sugar-sweetened beverage consumption should and will have a heavy impact -- for the better, West says.

Read the Full Story

Gus West: Immigration Reform Bill Still Denies Basic Rights

-- for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

May 6, 2013

Is this the year Washington finally tackles immigration reform?

The bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators just released a proposal for "comprehensive immigration reform."

But the "comprehensive immigration reform" on offer serves to legally deprive undocumented immigrants of fundamental civil rights — in spite of their outsized contributions to the U.S. economy.

The basic plan from the Gang of Eight has not changed much since the last time Washington showed an interest in immigration reform, in 2007.

It starts with stern promises to "secure the border." A guest worker program would follow.

The Gang of Eight proposal would enable undocumented immigrant workers to remain here legally after a criminal background check, a hefty registration fee, and a number of other onerous requirements.

Read the Full Piece

 

De la Isla: Latina Obesity Exacerbated by Food Industry

-- by Jose De la Isla, Hispanic Link News Service:

The Hispanic Institute of Washington, D.C., recently released a report: "Obesity: Hispanic America's Big Challenge." It's in line with the growing notion that some Latino community groups are too cozy with the food industry.

Commercial interests are flooding stores with sugary soft drinks and other foods that are too salty and fatty. Latino families have favorable demographics for increasing sales. Unfortunately, this also contributes greatly to the national obesity problem.

Among the solutions: The institute urges national Hispanic organizations not to accept funds from companies whose products hurt people and for whom those groups exist as advocates.

The institute's report stands out by going a step further than simply serving as just one more criticism of food-industry products. It examines the marketing as well and the politics of goodwill behind some of the support given to Latino organizations.

"Of course, we're responsible for what we eat and drink," says the institute's president, Gus West, "but we're also subject to the effects of massive advertising and misleading promotional campaigns -- especially on our children and the poor."

Read More

Report: Regulate Junk Food, Say Adios to Obesity

-- from Industry Today:

Like most Americans, Gus West always thought of yogurt as a nutritious and healthful food item rather than something that could be unhealthier for you than a bowl of sugarcoated cereal.

But, to his great surprise, he found out that, at least in some cases, it is the latter.

That is the last time he will buy that particular brand of yogurt for his child.

“I’m the leader of a national organization and you think I would be more knowledgeable of things like this,” he said. “But I didn’t know that, and I feel like I should have.”

Now, as the board chair and president of The Hispanic Institute, he is directing a campaign to help better educate fellow Hispanics about the dangers lurking inside a wide range of processed foods and sugary products.

The newly-launched campaign is based on a recent report by the organization, titled “Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge,” which strongly criticizes the processed food industry and its countless list of manufacturers for its complicity in flooding stores with drinks that are too sugary and foods that are too salty and contain too much fat.

Read the Full Story

FROM THE "VANGUARDIA" NEW BLOG

Texas Group Uses Health Care Issue to Get Hispanics to the Polls

-- by Alex Ura, for The New York Times:

When Armando Rodriguez opened the front door of his home here on the city’s west side, Chris Ornelas of the Texas Organizing Project met him with one question.

“What are some of the biggest concerns you have in your life right now?” Mr. Ornelas asked in Spanish.

Two Immigration Fixes Obama Can Implement Right Now

-- by Mitchell J. Cohen, The Hill:

President Obama has decried our immigration system as “broken.” In the absence of a legislative fix, he has promised to take executive action to provide some relief to undocumented immigrants.  As an attorney who has been practicing immigration law in the greater Miami area for 15 years, I have 2 suggestions for executive action the president can take without stepping on the toes of the legislative branch.

Fix #1: Expand use of “Parole in Place.”

New TV Series Documents America's Dramatic Demographic Shift

-- by Bryan Llenas, Fox News Latino:

An advertising agency at the forefront of tapping into the purchasing power of Latinos, a community in New York where minority babies have a greater chance of death
than in Libya, a city in Idaho where White Americans are still very much the majority — these are just some of the stories on an upcoming television series documenting America’s changing demographics.

Individual Injuries the Focus of Revised Labor Safety Rules

-- by Erik Derr, The Latin Post:

Workplace accidents suffered by individuals are a new focus of the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has re-worked reporting guidelines for work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye, as well as death.

W.H. Talks Immigration With Latino Lawmakers

-- by Seung Min Kim, Politico:

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough pledged to Latino lawmakers during a private meeting Thursday that President Barack Obama will take executive action on immigration before the holidays are over – an effort to soothe lawmakers furious about the administration’s move to hold off on action.

Texas' Missing Hispanic Students

-- by Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed:

Hispanic students may have been kept away from Texas’ public research universities after the Legislature allowed state colleges to set their own tuition prices, according to a study published this month in The Annals, a journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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