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February 25, 2019

Two important bills related to vaccines were introduced in recent days. One, a proposal authored by Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL – Brooklyn Center), would allow exemptions from immunizations required for school for medical contraindication only. In the House, Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL – Golden Valley) submitted a bill to provide culturally appropriate education on the benefits of immunizations in communities with low vaccination rates.

Past MNAAP President Marilyn Peitso, MD, FAAP, testified in support of an effort to ban the use of so-called “conversion therapy.” The therapy, widely condemned by pediatricians, researchers, mental health practitioners, and others as a dangerous practice that can leave devastating impacts, particularly for youth, would be prohibited for minors under the legislation. The bill would also prohibit reimbursement for the therapy under Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

February 11, 2019

Legislation to prohibit the use of so-called “conversion therapy” has been introduced in recent weeks and is set for its first hearing on Feb. 13. The therapy would be prohibited for minors under a bill set to be heard in the House this week. MNAAP Past President Marilyn Peitso, MD, is scheduled to testify in support of the proposal.

A proposal to require most employers to offer paid leave in cases of serious illness of an employee or their family members cleared its first committee hurdle on Jan. 31. The bill extends this employer mandate to cover other circumstances, including childbirth or adoption, as well as other instances like deployment of military personnel.

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

January 28, 2019

MNAAP President-elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, appeared before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on January 24.  Committee Chair Sen. Michelle Benson issued the invitation to provide an update for committee members on an emerging issue in child health: the impact of screen time.  Dr. Berkowitz, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, shared with the committee the latest research on screen time and children and adolescents, and shared with legislators how he discusses these issues with parents.

Tobacco control efforts took a big step forward in recent days with the introduction of bipartisan bills to raise the minimum age to purchase products containing nicotine from 18 to 21.  Almost two dozen communities and counties have already increased the age to purchase.  In addition, a bill to fund tobacco and nicotine cessation was dropped, as was legislation to extend the prohibition on the use of e-cigarettes indoors to all public spaces.  The bills have drawn a strong group of bipartisan authors in both the House and Senate.

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

January 15, 2019

The 2019 legislative session kicked off at noon on January 8, 2019. Thanks to a very strong showing by the DFL in the suburbs in the fall 2018 elections, the DFL gained control of the House of Representatives.  The DFL also maintained control of the governor’s office with former U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s win, while the GOP held on to its single-seat majority in the state Senate.  The session’s biggest undertaking – crafting a biennial budget – will begin in earnest in the coming weeks.

With input from MNAAP committees, board members and leadership, and a comprehensive survey of MNAAP members, the MNAAP has selected four legislative priorities for the 2019 session. The four priorities include:

  • reducing gun violence
  • strengthening immunization laws
  • opposing the scheduled sunset of Minnesota’s provider tax
  • and advocating for increased access to behavioral health care.

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

December 20, 2018

The leadership of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) will change in the new year, with a familiar face taking over as executive director.

Melissa DeBilzan, who formerly served as communications director for the chapter, was selected as the new executive director by the chapter’s board, effective January 1, 2019. She replaces Katherine Cairns, MPH, MBA who will continue to serve as the executive director of the chapter’s philanthropic arm, the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation (MAPF).

Cairns, a seasoned health care consultant, joined the chapter as executive director in 2007. In addition to steadily growing the chapter’s membership, she initiated multiple grant-funded projects in partnership with pediatricians to help clinics improve pediatric immunization rates, mental health access, implement health care homes/medical homes, promoted use of bilingual Community Health Workers to improve pediatric care, support food insecurity screening, and other efforts.

DeBilzan joined MNAAP in 2009 as the communications director. Initially charged with overseeing the chapter’s quarterly publication and weekly member email, her responsibilities soon included member recruitment, engagement, education, and advocacy efforts. DeBilzan has staffed work groups and overseen grant initiatives aimed at addressing pediatric obesity, child abuse, poverty, and disparities. She is a graduate from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in journalism and lives in White Bear Lake with her husband and five children.

Bethany Venable has assumed the responsibilities of communications manager for MNAAP. Venable joins the chapter with more than a decade of communications experience in news, and non-profit public relations and marketing.

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