House tech panel priorities include health IT, e-recycling

The U.S. House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee will focus on improving health IT and math and science education, making electronics easier to recycle, and aiding research on alternative energy during 2009, the committee's chairman said.

Also among the committee's priorities are legislation focused on spurring the U.S. nanotechnology industry, restructuring a research and development tax credit for the tech industry, and working with President-elect Barack Obama to establish a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, similar to a research projects office at the Department of Defense, said Representative Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat and committee chairman.

The Department of Energy needs to fund more projects looking at alternative energy and climate change, Gordon said. "You can't hit the ball if you don't swing the bat," he said at a press conference.

Much of the committee's focus will be on improving U.S. competitiveness, Gordon said Thursday. The committee will push for additional funding for the , a bill passed in August 2007 that authorized increased government funding for basic science research, gave grants to states for math and science teaching, and gave money to states to establish specialized math and science schools.

Part of the committee's math and science focus will be on finding ways to recruit female and minority students into math and science fields, Gordon said. Those groups are "woefully under-represented" in U.S. math and science fields, he said. "If you want to get the quickest bang for your buck, it's reaching out and focusing on programs for women and minorities," he said.