Several bills aimed to improve the health and well-being of children are expected to come up for discussion during the 2020 Minnesota legislative session. The issues range from tobacco and vaping to closing the state’s achievement gap. With a mission to champion the health needs of children and families, Children’s Minnesota will be one of the organizations advocating for these policy changes.
Kelly Wolfe, director of public affairs and advocacy shares more with WCCO
Tobacco and vaping
In December, President Trump signed a federal law raising the minimum age to purchase all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. The Trump administration has also banned fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors of e-cigarettes. However, menthol and tobacco flavored e-cigarette were allowed to remain on the market. Passage of a Minnesota Tobacco 21 bill would align the state with federal law and ensure strong implementation, compliance and enforcement. Comprehensive action must also be taken to reverse the youth vaping epidemic. That includes a ban on all flavors and funding for prevention.
Breakfast at school
Over the last few years, Children’s pediatricians and providers have seen an increase in the number of children and families that experience food insecurity. Research has shown that children who don’t get enough nutritious food were more likely to struggle in class, miss school and exhibit behavior and developmental problems. Traditional school breakfast programs have been served before the start of the school day. However, because of several barriers, students can miss out on that food. For these reasons, Children’s has voiced support for the “Breakfast After the Bell” bill.
“Kids do not always have a voice in discussions about their health. For that reason, our commitment extends beyond our hospitals and clinics,” said Kelly Wolfe, Children’s director of public affairs and advocacy. “We have an obligation to make sure we give children every opportunity to lead their healthiest life possible.”
Closing the achievement gap
Minnesota’s achievement gap has consistently been among the worst in the United States. To fix this, Children’s would like to see an investment in high quality early education at a very early age. Research indicates 80 percent of brain development occurs by age three. Scientific evidence supports a focus on this time in a child’s life was a way to drive better health outcomes and lowers opportunity gaps.
Support Children’s advocacy efforts
The Children’s advocacy team works on several health issues that impact children and their families. However, for advocacy to work, we need support from the whole community. You can be a voice for children by joining the Children’s Advocacy Network. Participants will be alerted when there is an opportunity to contact your legislators on these issues.