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March 12, 2013
  • An amendment adopted into a larger bill would prohibit the destruction of newborn screening test results until the Minnesota Department of Health reports back to the Legislature in 2014 on the validity of the time frames that samples and results are stored.  Testifying in support of the new language was Sue Berry, MD, president-elect of the MN-AAP. The bill’s next stop is the Senate Judiciary Committee. At this time, the newborn screening language is not yet included in the House companion to SF 1017.
  • One of the key legislative priorities for the MN-AAP has begun its march through the committee process in both the House and Senate. Legislation to address bullying and harassment in schools by requiring consistent and comprehensive definitions of bullying, protections for enumerated individuals more likely to be bullied and reporting of incidents was heard in education committees in both bodies.  MN-AAP member, Tom Scott, MD, testified in support of the proposal in the House.
  • A proposal to invest in early brain development via expanded access to early education programming has been introduced in both the House and Senate.  The “MinneMinds” package would provide almost $200 million in early education scholarships to 3 and 4 year olds in low-income families.  The MN-AAP is a member of the MinneMinds coalition that is advocating for passage of the bill.
  • The February forecast announced by Minnesota Management and Budget paints a somewhat rosier budget picture for both the current and next biennia.  The latest numbers project a small surplus in the 2012 – 2013 budget and a deficit of $627 million in 2014 – 2015.  That deficit figure is smaller than the October projection which had suggested a deficit of $1.1 billion.  The February forecast will serve as the framework from which legislators will craft the biennial budget, a process that will soon begin in earnest.
February 27, 2013
  • Over 100 pediatricians and pediatric residents from around the state gathered in St. Paul at the State Capitol on February 13 for the annual Pediatrician’s Day at the Capitol.   Attendees heard from MN AAP chapter leaders as well as committee chairs from the House HHS Policy Committee and the Senate Education Policy Committee.  Following a discussion of the chapter’s 2013 legislative priorities, many attendees met with their own legislators or watched committee hearings.
  • A bill to mandate pulse oximetry testing to detect congenital heart defects for all newborns prior to discharge from a hospital or birthing center has moved through two committees in the House of Representatives.  The bill is authored by Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL – Faribault) in close concert with Rep. Nick Zerwas (GOP – Elk River), who himself was born with a congenital heart defect.
February 11, 2013
  • Mark your calendars for the 2013 Peds Day at the Capitol!  Set for February 13 2013, it’s a wonderful opportunity to visit with fellow pediatricians, hear from legislative leaders, and meet your elected officials.  Register here!
  • A number of bills dealing with tobacco came before the Legislature in recent weeks.  Both the House Tax Committee and the Senate Tax Reform Committee heard bills that would reclassify so-called “little cigars” as conventional cigarettes.  Particularly appealing to youth because of their fruit and candy flavoring and low price, little cigars are taxed at a far lower rate than cigarettes due to a loophole in the state’s tax law.  The bipartisan proposals would close the loophole, raising the price of the product.  Also receiving attention was a House proposal to raise the state’s tobacco tax by $1.60.  The MNAAP is part of the “Raise it For Health” Coalition, and has been actively supporting both of these efforts.
January 23, 2013
  • Governor Dayton’s budget proposal dominated the headlines and committee hearings at the Capitol this week. In addition to raising additional revenue via a higher income tax on high earners and an expansion of the sales tax (coupled with a lower rate), the proposal contained a number of items noteworthy for the MN-AAP. The proposal calls for an increased tobacco tax, expanded newborn screening program, increased funding for school-linked mental health services, and renewed investment in the physician workforce via MERC. The Governor’s budget proposal only serves as a starting point in crafting a final budget for the state; legislators will craft their own proposal in the months to come.
  • The MinneMinds coalition held it’s official kick-off event at the State Capitol on January 14. The group, of which the MN-AAP is a member, is a collection of over forty nonprofits, educators, business, unions, parents and religious groups. MinneMinds is calling for an expanded scholarship program to allow low income 3 and 4 year olds access to high quality early childhood education. Coalition members were joined at the launch by legislative leaders from key House and Senate committees.
  • Mark your calendars for the 2013 Peds Day at the Capitol! Set for February 2013, it’s a wonderful opportunity to visit with fellow pediatricians, hear from legislative leaders, and meet your elected officials. Register here!
January 17, 2013
  • Legislators returned to St. Paul to begin the 2013-2014 biennium on January 8. With calls for bipartisanship, veteran and freshmen legislators alike took the oath of office, many with their families next to them on the House or Senate floor. The good feelings quickly turned sour in the Senate, as legislators fought over staffing and budgets. It’s likely that partisan fights will only become more prominent as legislators begin to grapple with a $1.1 billion budget deficit.
  • The 2012 elections brought dramatic change to St. Paul, with Democrats re-taking control over both the House and Senate following two years of GOP control. With the change in partisan control comes new leadership of both bodies, as well as new chairs for all committees.
  • The MNAAP Board of Directors met this week to consider its 2013 legislative priorities and agenda. Following extensive committee work and discussion, the MNAAP will be focusing its legislative work on preserving and expanding access to care for children and adolescents, strengthening the state’s newborn screening program, preventing bullying and harassment in our schools, and investing in early brain development.
  • Mark your calendars for the 2013 Peds Day at the Capitol! Set for February 2013, it’s a wonderful opportunity to visit with fellow pediatricians, hear from legislative leaders, and meet your elected officials.
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