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From the Charleston Daily Mail, April 20, 2004, Tuesday
Copyright 2004 Charleston Newspapers
Scientific thinking should get more emphasis in all levels of education because it's a cornerstone to a better life, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said.
Capito, who has a zoology degree, discussed the importance of teaching kids logic during a meeting of the Kanawha Valley chapter of the American Chemical Society on Monday.
Speaking at West Virginia State University, where she was once a career counselor, Capito said she hadn't made much direct use of her zoology degree in her political career. The patterns of thinking she learned in science classes, however, have proved useful in all aspects of her life, the Republican congresswoman said.
"I think it's something we can't shortcut with our children because it's an absolutely vital part of life that they would be missing," Capito said.
In a 45-minute talk with the chemists, the congresswoman mainly focused on worsening conditions in the chemical industry and what Congress may be able to do to help.
Halting the chemical industry job losses is important, particularly in the Kanawha Valley, because there will be no recovery, she said.
"When you lose these jobs, you can't get them back," Capito said.
About two dozen people attended the American Chemical Society's dinner at the Erickson Alumni Center.
In terms of legislative proposals, Capito said most are aimed at easing the chemical industry's legal burdens. In particular, a bill that would set up an asbestos victims trust fund while cutting off liability lawsuits is gaining bipartisan support in Congress.
Opponents of the asbestos bill say the trust fund would set arbitrary compensation limits and take away victims' legal rights. Capito, however, said asbestos lawsuits are crippling some of the country's largest companies without helping the people suffering from asbestosis.
"We all want to help the individual who's harmed. That's who we are," she said.
The trust fund would help those individuals while also giving companies a clear end to their liability exposure, Capito said.
Another proposal would move class action lawsuits to federal court when the damages sought exceed $ 2 million. Capito said the bill would prevent plaintiff lawyers from moving a case around the country in search of a sympathetic jury.
A third measure is a medical liability bill similar to the one the state Legislature passed, she said.
Something that would more directly help West Virginia is a stripped down version of the President's energy bill that would still fund clean coal research and natural gas exploration. Any bill that has those two components is a "jobs bill for West Virginia," Capito said.
Congress is also in the process of expanding funding for the National Institutes of Health for the third year in a row, the congresswoman said. Some of the money spent on health research will create more jobs for chemists, she added.