With the 2020 legislative session beginning on Feb. 11, 2020, the MNAAP took the next steps to pursue our legislative agenda when the Board of Directors selected the chapter’s 2020 legislative priorities. The chapter will focus on increasing immunization rates and enacting common-sense provisions to reduce firearm violence. The two priorities were identified through a MNAAP policy roundtable discussion with members after reviewing the results of the all-member survey, and were affirmed by the MNAAP Board of Directors.
Recognizing the significant risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, the MNAAP has long argued that Minnesota’s vaccine requirement for school-aged children – among the weakest in the country – needs reform. Minnesota was the scene of a major measles outbreak in 2017, and even larger outbreaks occurred earlier this year in New York and elsewhere. Many states – California, New York, and Maine notably – have strengthened their childhood immunization requirements in the wake of these threats to public health, and Minnesota would be wise to follow their lead.
Make no mistake, fixing Minnesota’s weak vaccine law will be an uphill battle given the influence of anti-vaccine activists and legislators. The anti-vaccine community is very well organized, and they routinely fill legislators’ inboxes with dozens, even hundreds, of emails. It will take the action of pediatricians, other physicians, health advocates, and parents from across the state voicing their support of strengthened vaccine requirements for us to be successful.
The MNAAP has once again chosen to tackle firearm violence in the upcoming session. Specifically, the chapter will partner with legislative champions and allied groups to extend background checks to all sales and transfers of firearms, including at gun shows and private sales. In addition, the MNAAP will lobby for passage of a “red flag law” to allow law enforcement to seize firearms from those individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. Recent legislative sessions have seen chapter leaders testify in support of these common-sense proposals, and our advocacy will continue.
While increasing immunization rates and reducing firearm violence are the chapter’s identified legislative priorities, the MNAAP will be closely tracking dozens of other issues. Efforts to bar the use of conversion therapy for minors, promote health equity, and eliminate teen access to tobacco and e-cigarettes will remain on the chapter’s radar. Each legislative session always brings surprising issues that require the MNAAP’s involvement. In 2018, for example, the chapter was forced to quickly mobilize to oppose efforts to weaken safe sleep requirements in child care settings.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2020 Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol set for Monday, March 23. The MNAAP’s single biggest advocacy event, Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol is always a terrific day of advocacy and energy. This day is critically important to our advocacy efforts. Visit www.mnaap.org/day-at-the-capitol/ to register and make plans to join us!
Written by Eric Dick, MNAAP lobbyist