It has been a busy month of hearings at the State House and I’m happy to report that we are making progress on our policy priorities. See below for a quick recap. As we head into the final months of the legislative session, please keep an eye out for action alerts. We need to keep the pressure on our legislators to make sure these important bills go through.
Senate Bill 2757/House Bill 7657 – School Nutrition Updates:
S. 2757 and H. 7657 would make technical updates to Rhode Island’s “competitive foods” statute which sets forth the nutritional criteria for foods and beverages sold in schools outside of – and in competition with – the school meals program. This includes, but is not limited to, vending machines, school stores, a la carte foods sales and fundraisers held during the school day. These updates are needed to align Rhode Island’s standards with new federal requirements.
S. 2757 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 5. There was no opposition and the committee approved the bill. We expect a vote before the full Senate shortly.
H. 7657 was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on March 9. There was no opposition. The committee held the bill for further study (typical at this point in the session). We hope the committee will bring the bill up for a vote soon.
Senate Bill 2673/House Bill 7487 – Healthy School Marketing Bills:
S. 2673 and H. 7487 would take the nutrition standards referenced above apply them to foods and beverages that are advertised and marketed on school property. The premise of these bills is very simple - if a food or beverage can’t be sold on school property because it doesn’t meet federal and state nutrition criteria, then it shouldn’t be advertised or marketed there. Permitting the advertising of foods and beverages at schools that may not be sold there interferes with school messages promoting good health and academic success. The marketing also undermines parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet.
S. 2673 was heard by the Senate Education Committee on March 30. There was no vocal opposition. The committee held the bill for further study. (The Senate passed an identical bill last year.)
H. 7487 was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on March 16. There was no vocal opposition. The committee held the bill for further study.
Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum
In her FY 2017 budget recommendations, Governor Raimondo proposed issuing $35 million in bonds to extend bike paths and improve state parks. Several environmental projects are also included. The bond referendum would go before voters in the November general election. The American Heart Association strongly supports increased funding for biking, walking and recreational opportunities.
The Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum was considered by the House and Senate Finance Committees. There was broad support from health and environmental groups (no opposition). We will be working with legislative leaders to get this proposal into the General Assembly’s final budget.
Questions? Please feel free to contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations, at 401-228-2331 or [email protected].