With End of Legislative Session in Sight, Public Health on the Move

As April approaches, the end of the formal legislative session on July 31st is just four months away. Lots of public health legislation has either been passed or is on the move – some just steps away from final passage, others just starting the journey.  The legislature typically conducts much of their business in the final months of the session, so there is much action still ahead.  Now is the time to get involved if you want to see action!

Here is a run down of selected public health legislation that MPHA supports:

  • State Budget/Public Health Funding – House debate Coming in April.  Arguably the most important piece of legislation debated each year, serious deliberation is about the begin when the House takes up the budget in April. The Governor’s budget, released in January, proposed a modest increase in funding for DPH. Please join us on Tuesday, April 8th for a “Fund Public Health! Call-In Day” as part of National Public Health Week to let your Representative know that you care about adequate resources for public health. Stay tuned for more details.
  • Childhood Vaccine Trust Fundsigned into law! This bill was signed into law by the Governor in February and will ensure adequate funding to provide universal access to childhood vaccinations for all kids in the state.  (Lead sponsors: Senator R. Moore and Representative Lewis)
  • Juvenile Justice signed into law! This bill was signed by the Governor last September and will ensure that juveniles accused of non-violent crimes are not tried in the adult court system or held in adult prison. (Lead sponsors: Senator Spilka and Representative Khan)
  • Active Streets – passed in the House and Senate; now in Conference Committee! In the home stretch! Both the House and the Senate have passed bills that would authorize $50 million in funding for a new Complete Streets Certification Program to support cities and towns so that they may invest in infrastructure to support walking, biking, and public transit. (Lead sponsors: Senator Chandler and Representative Lewis)
  •  Anti-Shackling – passed in the House and the Senate; heading to Conference Committee!  This bill would prohibit the practice of shackling inmates during pregnancy, labor, and immediately postpartum. (Lead sponsors: Senator Spilka and Representative Khan)
  • Office of Health Equitypassed in the House! A bill to establish an Office of Health Equity within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to coordinate activities across state agencies to tackle health inequities has been passed by the House and is now before the Senate for consideration.  This bill has been proposed for many years, and the momentum built over those years is finally paying off! (Lead sponsors: Representative Rushing and Representative Sanchez)

  • Healthy Food Access – approved by Community Development Committee and Environment Committee. Bills that would set up a program to provide grants and low-cost loans to increase healthy food access in low-income communities were approved by two different legislative committees last year. MPHA will be working with our partners in the Act FRESH Campaign to push the legislature to take action this year.  We’ll be announcing a series of action opportunities soon! (Lead sponsors: Senator M. Moore and Senator Forry)
  • Zoning Reform for Healthy Community Design – approved by Municipalities Committee. Legislation to update our antiquated laws that govern how communities are built was just approved by a legislative committee and is moving now in the House.  Once the House has completed their budget in April, we will be pushing hard for action. (Lead sponsors: Senator Wolf and Representative Kulik)
  • Physical Education  in Schools – approved by Education Committee. This bill would require that Phys. Ed. be taught as a required subject in all grades and would require a statewide evaluation of physical education programs. Unfortunately, the proposed requirement for minimum time for physical activity during the school day was not included in the bill advanced by the Education Committee. (Lead sponsor: Representative Sanchez)
  • Regulating E-Cigarettesapproved by Public Health Committee. A bill to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and include e-cigarettes under the workplace smoking law was approved by committee and is awaiting further action in the House. (Lead sponsor: Representative Sanchez)
  • Earned Sick Timepending before the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. This bill would require employers to provide for employees to accure paid sick time for illness or the care of the a child, spouse, or parent. An initiative petition is also pending that may put the question to voters in this November’s election. (Lead sponsors: Senator Wolf and Representative Khan)

We are confident that we can make progress on many of these items and see more public health legislation hit the Governor’s desk! To learn more or get involved in any of these efforts, please contact Maddie Ribble at mribble@mphaweb.org.

One Comment on “With End of Legislative Session in Sight, Public Health on the Move

  1. Pingback: MPHA April 2014 Newsletter | MPHA: Action for a Healthy Massachusetts