While the summer and fall of a non-election year are generally a quiet time for state legislators and advocates alike, it’s a perfect time to make or reinforce relationships with your legislators. Though the start of the 2020 Minnesota legislative session is many months away, the work of being an advocate for healthier kids, adolescents, and families does not take a vacation.
State legislators are back in their districts for the autumn and will be into the winter. Many legislators are hosting town hall meetings with constituents and knocking on doors to build support in anticipation of close races once the November 2020 election arrives. These are terrific opportunities to remind legislators to invest in child and adolescent health and safety.
The fall is also a terrific time to invite your legislator to your clinic or a neighborhood coffee shop to urge them to support the issues that matter to pediatricians and their young patients. I am always eager to assist with scheduling a visit or to offer background, talking points, or tips on being an effective advocate.
MNAAP leadership has been busy this summer advocating for stronger immunization laws. While the most recent and dangerous national measles outbreak lingered, MNAAP leaders have been meeting with key legislators and advocating within their clinics and health systems to support fixing Minnesota’s weak immunization requirement. MNAAP staff has been similarly busy meeting with potential allies, health care professional associations, patient advocates, and other immunization advocacy leaders. We face an uphill climb to fix the law, but the chapter has received an encouraging level of support.
Several MNAAP leaders held a conference call with California State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician and the author of legislation to repeal California’s personal belief exception (PBE). Dr. Pan shared with the group his experience, encouraging the MNAAP to build a broad coalition of advocates and allies. Read Dr. Lori DeFrance’s “Word from the President” (page 3) for specific takeaways from our conversation.
To make a healthier Minnesota, we must start now. As autumn arrives and winter looms, take the time to make or build a connection with your legislator. It’s as simple as an email, a phone call, or a cup of coffee and it matters.