As the Budget Turns…(or Not!)
As all of you undoubtedly know, Congress has been bickering and battling over the FY11 Budget for months now….with little to show for their efforts. We are down to the last few hours and the possibility of the first shutdown this decade is beginning to look very much like a probability. Physical Activity programs have not fared well in the fight and the Republicans have targeted several of the programs that we are passionate advocates of in a series of bills cutting funding.
Bills such as S178 Spending Reduction Act of 2011, HR235 Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending Act of 2011; S475 Enacting President Obama’s Recommendations for Program Termination Act; HR737 : To terminate the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program, and for other purposes and of course a slew of amendments (slashing funding) to HR1 (the full year proposed budget bill) have their sites set on many of the programs that are near and dear to physical activity advocates (among others). The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has taken hits and been bounced around several times throughout the process. LWCF (stateside funding) is directly responsible providing countless outdoor recreation facilities such as soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, etc. resulting in thousands of physical activity opportunities. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill this week (HR1217) that eliminates the entire Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created under the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) reports that the measure could make it to the House floor for vote this coming week (assuming that there is business this week!) TFAH has done an excellent job all year with mobilizing the forces when needed to protect legislation. Visit their website for a wealth of materials to help you advocate on behalf of the Fund.
Programs targeted for cutting run from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) to components in the nation’s surface transportation bill that facilitate bicycling and walking opportunities…to eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund which contains a plethora of programs with the potential to increase physical activity opportunities.
The budget woes will unfortunately continue for FY12…where attention as already started to turn. LARGE cuts are being proposed and we will have to work hard once again to try and protect existing physical activity programs.
In spite of the current climate, there have been introductions of several bills that would indeed increase physical activity opportunities and more are in the works. Needless to say, the work will be challenging however, efforts should and will continue…if nothing else, those efforts will serve and educational role which may pay off down the road in a more favorable Congress.
FIT Kids Re-Introduced in both Senate and House in 2011
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) have re-introduced the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act (FIT Kids Act) in the Senate and the House, respectively. FIT Kids amends the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to increase children’s physical activity throughout the school day. The bill also requires all schools, districts and states to report on the quantity and quality of physical education; amends existing school programs to integrate physical activity and wellness throughout the day; and supports professional development for health and physical education teachers and principals so they can increase their students’ ability to learn and help promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity. The bill also funds a study to examine the impact of health and physical activity on student achievement and find effective ways to increase physical activity during the school day. The American Heart Association, an NCPPA lead organization member, has prepared some excellent materials for anyone interested in advocating on behalf of FIT Kids. The materials are available on their special FIT Kids website.
Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act of 2011 (HR 709)
Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-NJ) has re-introduced the House Livable Communities Act again this year It is basically the same as the version introduced in the last Congress although there are a few minor changes. The bill provides federal grants for the rehabilitation and construction of recreation areas and facilities and development of improved recreation programs in urban areas. It also allows for improvement of recreational areas and facilities and expansion of recreation services in urban areas with a high incidence of crime and to help expand recreation opportunities for at-risk youth. those in high risk areas. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), an NCPPA lead organization member, is leading the charge in support of the bill. NRPA acknowledges that “in a time of budget cuts moving this legislation through Congress will be no small task. However, numerous studies have shown that investments in public parks and recreation opportunities are a vital part of rebuilding the economies of urban areas where 80 percent of Americans live.” Congressman Sires states “This legislation will create jobs, fight obesity, reduce crime, and strengthen neighborhoods by investing in urban parks and community centers”. The bill currently has 39 co-sponsors and is gaining momentum. NRPA has published an Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act Fact Sheet that provides additional information.
Senator Harkin Re-Introduces HeLP Bill (S174)
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee ew-introduced his comprehensive health promotion bill, the Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act (HeLP), in late February. The HeLP bill contains numerous provisions for physical activity for all ages. Included are improving physical activity in childcare settings, worksite physical activity initiatives such as the Workplace Health Improvement Act (WHIP), equal physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities, sports for students with disabilities, a call for physical activity guidelines for pre-school age children and as well as a provision to provide a 5 year cycle for review/revision of the national physical activity guidelines for all ages, joint use agreements to increase physical activity opportunities, and much more. A bill of this size would face a challenging road in any Congress however given the nature of the 112th, that road is that much tougher…it is more likely that portions of the bill will be pulled out and worked separately if an opportunity presents itself.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 1 to 3 p.m. EDT
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convenes the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020 (Advisory Committee) to produce recommendations regarding the development and implementation of Healthy People 2020. Its 12 members are nationally known experts in public health. Objectives for 2020 (Committee) will hold a meeting on the Internet on April, 13, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The meeting is open to the public. Members of the public are invited to listen to the online Committee meeting. To attend the online meeting, individuals must pre-register online. There will be no opportunity for oral public comments during the meeting. Participation in the meeting is limited. Registrations will be accepted until maximum capacity is reached. Registration for the online meeting must be completed by 9:00 a.m. EDT on April 12, 2011. A waiting list will be maintained should registrations exceed meeting capacity. Individuals on the waiting list will be contacted as additional space for the meeting becomes available.
Meeting of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health
The Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health will meet in person for two days in the coming week, April 12-13th. They will be accepting public comments (maximum speaking time, 3 minutes/person) from 4:15-5:30 on April 12, 2011. The agenda can be viewed at http://www.healthcare.gov/center/councils/nphpphc/april_12_meeting_agenda.pdf.
Resources & Links…
- U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov
- U.S. Senate: www.Senate.gov
- White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
- FirstGov: Official U.S. Government portal to 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions.
- Library of Congress: Provides comprehensive information about Congress including legislation, committees, and Member information. Also provides links to other judicial and administrative branches, as well as to state and local governments.
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Publishes policy papers in a variety of subject areas under the “Policy Issues” section. NCSL also maintains a listing of all state legislative sites. http://www.ncsl.org or http://www.ncsl.org/public/sitesleg.htm
- National Governor’s Association (NGA): Publishes policy papers on a variety of state issues and legislative information. http://www.nga.org
- National Association of Counties: http://www.naco.org
- National Association of County and City Health Officials: http://www.naccho.org
- National League of Cities: http://www.nlc.org
- International City/County Management Association: http://www.icma.org
- U.S. Conference of Mayors: http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/home.asp
Contact Sheila Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org with your public affairs news and comments.
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