Guest Blogger: Lindsay Hovind, Washington Government Relations Director
The 2015 legislative session has gotten off to a great start for two of the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s biggest priorities: heart screening for newborns and Safe Routes to School.
We were excited to see Representative Marcus Riccelli introduce House Bill 1285 which would ensure every newborn in Washington is screening for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. As you’ve been hearing from us, this is a top priority for AHA in Washington. On January 30 the bill was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. Volunteer Amy Norton (pictured at left) joined me on the Hill to testify about her son Spencer’s remarkable CCHD story. A week later the bill passed out of the committee unanimously. This exciting progress, coupled with Amy’s compelling testimony, garnered some terrific media attention. You can view the Q13 FOX story here. Last week the bill passed unanimously out of the House, now it’s on to the Senate!
Also of note, our campaign to increase funding for Safe Routes to School has been gaining momentum. You’ll recall a fantastic group of youth advocates from Eastlake High School in Sammamish traveled to Olympia for AHA’s lobby day where they rallied outside with signs to raise awareness of this important program. Safe Routes to School gets kids and communities active, setting them on the path to a healthy lifestyle. (Check out this shout out in the Sammamish local paper.)
At this point in the session, the Senate has passed a transportation revenue package; some of the revenue would go to sustain the recent investments in Safe Routes to School. We are so pleased to see this program included, though we’re working hard to increase the investment so we can fully fund the need in our state.
Thank you for your continued interest and support of our advocacy work in Washington. There is still much work to do but it is encouraging to see legislators recognize the value of good health.