Guest Blogger: Jamie Morgan, Senior Government Relations Director
It has been a very exciting year at the Alaska State Capitol! We were successful in advancing two of our public policy priorities thanks, in large part, to the help of our volunteers. Our first success came when Governor Sean Parnell signed the State’s capital budget that included an increase of $1 million for the Obesity Prevention and Control Program. This will fund initiatives such as working with school districts to upgrade their wellness policies, physical education curriculum trainings for PE teachers, distribution of locally grown vegetables from the Alaska Farm to School program into more schools, and state trainings for rural educators on childhood obesity and school nutrition issues. This is no small feat, as Alaska is the only state of 10 in our affiliate to receive such a large amount of obesity prevention and control funding.
The second success came when the Governor signed SB 87, a bill that will require every newborn to be screened for critical congenital heart defects using Pulse Oximetry, a simple and painless test. Research suggests wider use of pulse-oximetry screening would help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects. With the signing of SB 87, Alaska becomes the 20th state to require this lifesaving test and the 5th in the Western States Affiliate.