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VAND Legislative Day January 21, 2015

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VAND Legislative Day January 21, 2015

As 69 of us met in Richmond on January 21, 2015 for the annual Legislative Day, I was energized by the enthusiasm and advocacy of our members. I was especially excited by the great representation from each of our 5 districts from VAND. We started the day by hearing from Virginia’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Hazel, followed by Karen Cameron from the Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare. Next, our State

Policy Representative, Nancy Farrell, and Legislative Consultant, Andrew Lamar, discussed VAND’s advocacy priorities for the 2015 General Assembly, with a summary of the bills we are following this year. Lincoln Saunders, Chief of Staff for the governor’s wife, Mrs. McAuliffe, stopped by to share details about the school breakfast initiative and ask for our support when speaking with legislators.

During the noon legislative session, Delegate Robinson gave us a shout-out in the House of Delegates, and Senator Dance asked Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, the President of the Senate, to welcome us for our work in preventing chronic disease with nutrition expertise. The afternoon was filled with RDNs, DTRs, and interns visiting with legislators and their aides, and spending time getting to know one another at a reception in the General

Assembly Building. Delegates, Senators, and their aides stopped by the reception as well to discuss nutrition-related legislation.

While VAND usually does not oppose or support specific bills, we have decided this year to take a stand on some legislation that is significantly related to our work as RDNs.

 In the interest of public safety, we have signed a letter of opposition, along with several other healthcare

organizations, to oppose HJ 519, HB 1290, and HB 1461, which would allow for the unregulated and uninspected sale of potentially hazardous foods.

 We are supporting the First Lady of Virginia’s initiative to increase access to school breakfast for children, which is known as the “Breakfast After the Bell” amendment to the state budget. The funding would provide an additional $0.05 state reimbursement per breakfast.

 VAND also supports an additional budget item to restore funding to the Virginia Foundation for a Healthy Youth by restoring the 10% allocation from the Master Settlement Agreement. It was reduced to 8.5% in 2010, and this restoration represents $3.5 million annually for programs that among other thing go to support programs to reduce childhood obesity and promote a healthy youth.

 Finally, we supported Senator Hanger's SB1167, which would have the Department of Health establish guidelines and make it possible for certain entities to stock and administer epinephrine in case of food allergy emergencies. This year’s General Assembly is 45 days long, and we will be providing updates through eBlasts and posts on our website’s advocacy page with progress on these bills and amendments, as well as others that may be of interest to our members. We also want to hear from you on public policy activities at publicpolicy.vand@gmail.com.

Thank you all for your work to advocate for our patients, the citizens of Virginia, and our profession! ~ Wendy Phillips,

MS, RD, CNSC, CLE, FAND VAND President, 2014-2015

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Secretary Hazel spoke about his personal interest in nutrition. He also shared his viewpoint on the future of healthcare, and encouraged RDNs to work in patient centered medical homes and accountable care

organizations to help improve patient outcomes. He stated that the United States spends the most money per capita than any other country (18% of our GDP), yet does not have a healthier population. He says that RDNs can help people develop healthier lifestyles to change this statistic. He also addressed the school breakfast initiative, saying “hungry kids are hungry kids” regardless of politics.

Karen Cameron discussed current efforts to expand Medicaid in Virginia to try to help those who fall into the “coverage gap”, as well as shared information about some of the bills currently being considered in the General Assembly, as part of her work for Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare.

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Lincoln Saunders, Chief of Staff to Mrs. McAuliffe, shared stories of innovative ways to serve school breakfast. He shared information on the funding source for this initiative, and agreed with RDNs in

the audience on the importance of adequate nutrition for children.

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Southwest district president Mary Jean Miller accompanied RDNs and interns from her district to meet with legislators.

The Northern district was led by District President Karyn Theis and District Legislative Representative Jackie Darling, pictured here with several other RDNs and interns from their district in the General Assembly Building.

Blue Ridge was well represented, including 12 dietetic interns from UVA Health Systems internship program.

Susan Noble, District Legislative Representative for the Southwest District, helped organize meetings with each Delegate and Senator in their district.

The Greater Richmond district was led by their District Legislative Representative, Nana Ofosu-Benefo.

Note: Not pictured is the Tidewater District, who also had great representation during the day and were led by their District Legislative Rep, Kathleen Walters.

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“ I had a great time at Legislative Day and really enjoyed learning from VAND leaders about how to carry myself when speaking about our profession with legislators and the public. Prior to that day, I had always considered myself apathetic to politics, but I have learned that I really do have a voice on the laws and regulations in our country and that legislators are also willing to listen to it. My experience at Legislative Day has changed my perspective on my role in the political process and I definitely plan to be more involved in both my personal and professional life.” Lucy Song, pictured here with Delegate Tony Wilt, VAND President Wendy Phillips, and her fellow UVA interns.

Senator Creigh Deeds was interested to learn that he has 66 RDNs as his constituents, more than any other Virginia

Senator! VAND’s Immediate Past President, Angie Hasemann, discussed the variety of roles held by RDNs in the UVA Health System in Senator Deeds’ district, and he agreed that RDNs help create a healthier Virginia.

Delegate Orrock shared a few laughs with Bonita Lillie, Nancy Farrell, and other members of VAND’s Northern district while discussing food and nutrition related health bills.

VAND’s State Policy Representative, Nancy Farrell, met with Senator Stuarts legislative aide, Dale Hendon, to discuss the food allergy bill that has been introduced for the 2015 General Assembly. Several of our members have been asked to provide expert testimony on this issue, although VAND has decided not to take an official position to oppose or support the bill.

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VAND MEMBERS RECOGNIZED AS THE NUTRITION EXPERTS IN VIRGINIA ON THE FLOOR OF THE

SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES

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See more pictures at vandlegislativeday2015.shutterfly.com!

Our public policy team needs you in 2015! Constituent Liaisons are VAND members who are

assigned to a Delegate or Senator to communicate with him or her and their aides on

nutrition-related public policy issues. If you’re interested in being a Constituent Liaison for a Virginia Senator

or Delegate, please contact your District Legislative Representative. Meeting with your elected

representative when they are in their home office or hosting town halls is a great way to get to

know them when they’re not so busy with General Assembly. If you do meet with them, let us

know by completing a Legislator Contact Form on the Advocacy page of the VAND website at

References

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