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Texas legislative recap

This legislative session was tough, there’s no doubt about it, but the American Heart Association has much to be proud of. Here’s a snapshot of some of our advocacy priorities from the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature: 

Quality P.E. Reporting- HB 3606 by Terry Wilson/SB 1873 by Chuy Hinojosa

Focus: This legislation enhances the School Health Survey, an existing report that captures information from school districts on physical education.  The bill ensures school districts report consistent, actionable data and makes the data available to parents at the school district level. 

Outcome:  SB 1873 passed out of both the House and Senate with overwhelming support and was signed by Governor Greg Abbott on June 16th.

 Early Childhood Nutrition and Activity Standards- HB 2664 by Rick Miller/SB 818 by Kirk Watson

Focus: This legislation would have updated and improved minimum standards for nutrition and physical activity in early childcare centers licensed by the state.

Outcome: Although neither bill made it to the Governor’s desk, the AHA is proud of the progress made on this important issue. We plan to continue moving this campaign forward through the interim and into 2019. 

Healthy Food Financing- HB 3324 by Eddie Rodriguez/SB 2156 by Judith Zaffirini

Focus: This legislation would have established  a grocery access investment program at the state level to increase access to fresh food in under-served communities across the state.

Outcome: While the legislation did not make it through the process to the governor’s desk, we made significant progress on the issue and plan to continue our work at the local and state level throughout the interim.  

Tobacco 21- HB 1908 by John Zerwas/SB 910 by Joan Huffman

Focus: This legislation would have increased the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The overwhelming majority of adult smokers start before the age of 21, so this legislation aimed to reduce youth access to tobacco, which would result in an estimated 30,500 fewer smokers in the first three years.

Outcome: AHA led a robust coalition of over a dozen public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Texas Medical Association, March of Dimes, Tobacco Free Kids, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and several hospital systems across the state. Throughout session, the coalition was able to garner strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, the legislation died on the House General calendar due to the House deadlines. AHA plans to build off the momentum created by this campaign to further the progress we made through the interim and into next session.

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