Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director
We are in the final stretch of the Utah State Legislative Session and things really look to be heating up! What will be the final fate SB 164 “Healthy Utah”? Are e-cigarettes finally going to be treated like all other tobacco products?
While we won’t know the answers to these questions until next week, I’d like to take a step back and congratulate our many volunteers for their efforts at our recent “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day!
My sincerest thanks to all those that were able to attend and to IASIS Healthcare for their sponsorship! This year IASIS provided health screenings to legislators and the public as well as lunch for our volunteers and the legislature. During our training session our volunteers had an opportunity to hear from a diverse range of speakers who are local experts in their related fields including:
- Dave Gessel from the Utah Hospitals Association who shared his emotional story of witnessing his own mother suffer a stroke. Dave was fortunate to be in a position to recognize her symptoms and get her to the hospital in time. Our thanks to the UHA for their ongoing efforts to ensure that stroke treatment in Utah continues to be the very best. We look forward to working with them and the Department of Health in the coming months to see that Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals receive state recognition.
- Tim Best from Davis School District who taught us about their innovative approach with “Healthy Bodies – Healthy Minds.” This program enhances children’s learning as teachers utilize physical activity through their lessons. Results from pilot schools have shown an amazing increase in student health and test scores as well as improved student behavior and less absences!
- Representative Raul Ray joined us to discuss his tie to the American Heart Association. He was born with severe congenital heart defects. He also explained his fight against tobacco use in our youth and his efforts this year to ensure that e-cigarettes stay out of schools and are treated as other tobacco products.
- Professor Chaney and some of his BYU Students presented on their work on Safe Routes to School. They have been working with a number of elementary schools throughout Utah County to identify problematic areas around schools that might put children at risk as they travel to and from school. You can follow their social media efforts by following #SafeRoutesUT. Special thanks to Benji Lambson, Kaylee Banner, Danny Doria, Maranda Christiansen, Kelsey Hamstead, Rachel Harris, Josinah Gachia for their efforts.
- Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox joined us to present on the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” plan. He spoke with our volunteers about the importance of engaging our legislators and letting them know how we feel about this issue as their constituents. In light of recent actions by the State House of Representatives in voting down the "Healthy Utah 2.0" plan passed by the State Senate, this truly underscores the need for all of us to get involved! For more on how you can help with this effort, please visit our You’re the Cure Action Page.
- Dr. Ben Schmidt is an Emergency Physician from IASIS Health Care’s Salt Lake Regional Hospital. He shared first-hand accounts of individuals performing CPR and the success that comes from bystanders administering it right away. This work truly saves lives and underscores the importance of our efforts to help all people learn CPR.
- We recognized Linda Mayne and Cybil Prideaux as our Volunteers of the Year for 2015. Linda and Cybil both work for the Utah State Office of Education and have been very instrumental in the success of rolling out our CPR in Schools efforts! Please reach out to your local High School to make sure they are participating in this core curriculum training.
- Lastly, Speaker Greg Hughes joined us to share some of his best tips on how to be effective citizen lobbyists. His number one takeaway was the importance of developing relationships with our legislators - and not just during the legislative session.
My thanks again for all who were able to attend! Thank you all for your efforts to drive our life-saving mission forward.
*Note: This was submitted before the end of the legislative session. Check back next month for a full review of the final status on these and other issues.