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2015 Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2015 Legislative Session has come to an end and we’ve had another great year working hard to push for heart-health policies in Minnesota. We have many reasons to celebrate the work in fighting for a healthier Minnesota!

The Wins
As the dust settles, we are excited to share the big policy wins the state saw in heart-health this year. Thank you for your passion and work in making these happen:
    

   • Minnesota Stroke System: Minnesota is now home to one of the country’s most comprehensive stroke systems with the passage of the EMS Stroke Protocols bill. This bill makes it a requirement for all EMS systems in the state to have updated protocols to treat and transfer stroke victims so they receive the best possible care available in the fastest amount of time to reduce the chances of death or disability from stroke. The system also became stronger this year, when the legislature dedicated $350,000 in the budget of dedicated funding to run the stroke program. Previously, the system was funded by a federal grant from the CDC that the state had to continually re-apply for and that has always changing parameters. This new dedicated funding will allow the basics of the system to be run into the future and shows that the state is dedicated to ensuring Minnesota has a successful system to treat stroke ensuring the best possible outcome for its residents. 
   • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Funding: We did it! Because of advocates like you, we were able to keep the $35 million/biennium in the base budget and keep SHIP fully funded this year. More importantly, we will be able to continue to see the great outcomes of the program as it works to combat obesity and reduce tobacco use in almost every corner of our state!
   • Health Equity Data Analysis: We were able to advocate for $250,000 per year to implement better data reporting on race, ethnicity and language in an effort to better identify responses to Health Disparities in Minnesota. With better data reporting focusing on disparities, more attention can be made to the population in the most need of intervention, programs and resources.
   • MNCare: Thousands of Minnesotans will be able to continue to benefit from MNCare thanks to your loud voices! After an earlier proposal to eliminate MNCare all together, the session ends with MNCare intact! While, portions of the bill changed in negotiations and some participants will see increases to their premiums and co-pays, the program will remain, which is much better than the elimination of these services.

Still Fighting
While it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying or involvement by advocates like you, we are still in the fight for a few of the policy areas we started at the beginning of session. Some of these could be revived during a special session, others we will attack again next year, as we know heart disease and stroke don’t stop, and so we can’t stop fighting against it!     

   • Active Transportation: After many emails, phone calls, meetings, rallies, postcards, petitions, etc., the legislature only passed a "lights-on" transportation bill which means there is no new funding for biking and walking programs or other transportation priorities this year. Even though we didn’t get a comprehensive multi-modal transportation bill this session, it is because of the hard work of many advocates like you that we have laid unprecedented groundwork and mobilization of bike/walk advocates from across the state. We will continue to build statewide momentum for active transportation for 2016-17.
   • Physical Education: Despite our best efforts and great hearings in the House and Senate, the PE bill, which would improve PE for all Minnesota students, did not make it into the final K-12 Education omnibus bill. However, Gov. Dayton has vetoed the K-12 Education bill for other reasons so the next step is a special session on education. During this special session, we will have an opportunity to urge that the PE bill be included in the revived K-12 bill. And if we aren’t heard during special session, we will certainly be back next session fighting for better PE in Minnesota!
   • EMS/Pre-hospital Data Collection and Reporting: This bill would have shifted pre-hospital data that is already being collected from the EMS Regulatory Board to the Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to allow for the data to be better utilized and shared with partners form across the state looking to do quality and program improvement in pre-hospital aspects of acute care. This bill had a rough start this year and also a sizable fiscal note. We will continue to work with our EMS partners on this bill next session.

Thanks for another GREAT year! YOU ARE THE CURE!

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MN Advocates Attended National Lobby Day in D.C.!

On May 11 and 12, the Midwest Affiliate joined more than 380 advocates in Washington D.C. for You’re the Cure on the Hill national lobby day. We had 53 volunteers 10 of which were youth advocates, 20 staff representing all 11 states in the affiliate who stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. We had seven great advocates representing Minnesota this year: Alex and Ben Mitchell, Carrie-Ann Canney, Colin and Maddie Roberts, Dale Wakasugi and Lisa Hoffman.
In all, the entire event conducted 293 meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards, and also to make cardiovascular disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health. We were able to meet with staff and several Members of Congress throughout the day. Team Minnesota had some great meetings with staff in DC sharing their stories. Check out more photos from the event here.

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Step Up with Minnesotans on National Walking Day!

Today is National Walking Day! Grab your friends, family or coworkers and get active on this beautiful spring day!  Check out the article below posted by the Public News Source.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Across Minnesota today, children and adults will be taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. This is National Walking Day from the American Heart Association.

State Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said it's also the kickoff of Minnesota's 30 Days of Biking Challenge, encouraging people to be active every day in April and make it a habit going forward.

"We know that we have a childhood obesity and adult obesity issue in this country," he said. "We're trying to bring awareness to the need for good health, and one way to get that is through safe walking and also biking."
Continue reading here

 

Photo: Elizabeth/Flickr

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Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition's First Lobby Day a Success!

The first ever Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day was held on March 25th, and it was a huge success! Many people described this event as "the best lobby day ever!" Thank you to all the volunteers, staff and attendees who made this event happen! There were well over 200 attendees who received excellent training throughout the morning program then met with 148 state legislators (!) in the afternoon to advocate for:

1) A transportation funding bill that includes resources to improve pedestrian and bicycle options
2) A bill to strengthen physical education standards in MN schools
3) Continued base funding for SHIP

During the morning training Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Health Commissioner Ehlinger spoke about the future of transportation policy for public health. Sen. Dibble and Rep. Dettmer spoke about safe routes and quality physical education!

Attendees also dropped packets off at the offices of all 201 legislators that included petition cards in support of the Active Transportation and Physical Education.

A huge representation from the Duluth community showed their support as well! This included 30 students from Duluth East & Denfeld along with chaperones, Duluth school board member, UMD students representing Colleges against Cancer, RFL volunteers, SLB & ASC-CAN!

Their TV sponsor, KBJR, came to the state building and met with the delegation and did a great interview which aired that night. Watch Here 

Check out a few photos from the day below!

Professional photos: By Rebecca Studios
Photos: Lobby Day Attendees


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Urging Minnesotans to Rethink Their Drink

Check out this article from the Public News Service on sugar sweetened beverages!

ST. PAUL, Minn. - March is National Nutrition Month, and those across the state wanting to make some positive changes are being told to "Rethink Your Drink."

Donna McDuffie, nutrition coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Health, says far too many children and adults are getting an unhealthy excess of calories through sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, iced teas, coffees, and energy and sports drinks.

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet and that contributes to things like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease," says McDuffie. - Continue reading here

 

Photo: Shardayyy/Flickr

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New School P.E. Benchmarks Considered for MN

The Public News Service posted an aritcle this morning on developing grade-specific benchmarks for P.E. classes in Minnesota, check it out below!

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Getting regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to combat childhood obesity, and a bill awaiting a hearing at the state Capitol aims to make sure Minnesota school children are being active.

State Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, said the legislation calls for the updating of statewide standards for physical education for the first time in more than a decade, along with the development of grade-specific benchmarks.

"This will add three new questions to an existing report that school districts are required to submit asking for their information on the quality of and quantity of physical education classes that kids receive in their schools," Dettmer said. - Continue Reading Here


Photo: Jim Larrison/Flickr

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Last Chance! Register for the MHK Lobby Day on March 25th!

The Minnesotan's for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby day is two weeks away on Wednesday, March 25th at the Minnesota History Center! This event's focus is to advocate for policy that will help combat childhood obesity like fighting for quality physical education in schools, funding for the Statewide Help Improvident Program (SHIP) and funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.  Register now to join advocates from Minnesota for this all day event to learn about the issues and meet with your lawmakers to ask them for their support. Breakfast and lunch is included. No cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

Don't miss out on this great event and register here now or call Jess at (952) 278-7928.

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Advocates Pledged to Rethink Their Drink!

Last Friday was AHA's Worksite Wellness Symposium: Establishing a Culture of Health in the Workplace. The event took place at Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN. The advocacy department had a table in the expo area, displaying just how much sugar is in everyday beverages. At the table, we also asked people to pledge to Rethink Your Drink, and move toward healthier beverage choice by drinking more water and fewer sugar-loaded beverages for the next 30 days!

 

 

 

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