Guest Blogger: Ben Schmauss, Government Relations Director, Nevada
In my college days, one of my professors read a poem that really touched me, known as “The Starfish Poem.” In summary, the poem describes a man walking down a sandy beach that had countless starfish stranded on it dying without the cover of water and baking in the sun. A man was picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water when another man walked up to him and said “why are you doing that?”
He replied “they will die being out of the water.”
The other man said, “there is no way you can save them all - no matter how hard you work, it won’t matter.”
Holding a starfish, the first man looked down at his hand and said “it will matter to this one” and threw it back to the safety of water.
This past year this poem has taken special meaning in my work as I have been humbled by the amazing sacrifice and service of the volunteers and staff members who look within themselves and give because “it matters to this one”. From responding to action alerts to sharing an interesting article on social media to meeting with legislators, each step laid the foundation to make tremendous impact.
With the lead of volunteers like yourself, we were able to pass the following heart healthy pieces of legislation:
- Nevada became the first State in the Country to pass legislation addressing both a “Competitive Foods” and “Junk Food Marketing in Schools” through revisions to Nevada’s School Wellness Policy. Through this revision, Nevada’s School Wellness Policy now requires that all items sold Nevada school campuses must meet the Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards, and only marketing consistent with Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards is allowed on the school campus. This includes any advertising and other promotions on the school campus during the school day (oral, written, or visual). This policy will improve the school environment to teach and foster healthy lifestyles in our youth.
- Senate Bill 196 requires the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish and maintain a Stroke Registry to compile information and statistics concerning the treatment of patients who have experienced a stroke. This bill will improve the quality of care provided to patients who suffer from strokes in Nevada, and creates an annual report which will also help analyze areas for improving stroke care.
- Senate Bill 483 will increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1. SB 483 will prevent more than 10,000 Nevada youth from becoming smokers, encourage more than 15,000 adult smokers to quit, and save more than $474 million in future health costs associated with tobacco use.
Taken as a whole, these victories will impact and improve the health of thousands of Nevadans, thousands of tourists who visit the Silver State, and future generations of Nevadans. I am so grateful to be part of movement that impacts so many “starfish”. As I raise a family, work and play in Nevada I am proud to be surrounded by so many wonderful people that are willing to join me in this walk down the beach and save lives.
Pictured is a group of Volunteers and Staff that attended Nevada Lobby Day 2015 and helped lay the foundation for passing the Stroke Registry Bill and increasing the tobacco tax.