The 2016 Legislative Session might seem a long way off…but for the dedicated advocates who serve on the Rhode Island Advocacy Committee, summer is the perfect time to start gearing up for another successful year! There are many steps that go into our policy planning process. Staff work closely with RI Advocacy Committee members to conduct research and assess different policies, and based on that rigorous analysis the group collectively identifies 5-6 areas that will be the focus of our 2016 policy agenda. Once the group approves the agenda, they develop comprehensive campaign plans that will help guide us to victory. Campaign strategies include grassroots and grasstops advocacy, direct lobbying and media advocacy. Needless to say, You’re the Cure advocates like YOU play a critical role in our efforts. Beginning this fall and throughout the legislative session, we need your help to educate lawmakers and keep the pressure on so they move our bills. Advocates are also encouraged to attend our RI Lobby Day which will be held in May 2016 (more info to come!).
So, what policy issues are rising to the top of the list? We have a couple of issues that are carryovers from the 2015 Legislative Session – we will continue to prioritize CPR in Schools funding; updates to Rhode Island’s school nutrition/competitive foods law which covers all foods and beverages sold outside of and in competition with the school meals program (vending, a la carte, fundraising, etc.); and, school marketing to ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised/marketed to children on school property. We are excited to add 1-2 new issues to the line-up as well. Sneak peak – there is a lot of interest among advocates and partners to launch a campaign related to physical education in schools. Perhaps we can take the first step in 2016?
Please stay tuned for more details! The RI Advocacy Committee plans to finalize the 2016 policy agenda by the end of August. If you have any questions or would like to get more involved with the American Heart Association’s policy work in Rhode Island, please contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations at [email protected].