Health Leaders Urge State Legislators to Make Public Health a Priority.

On May 4th, Health Leaders Fellows from across the state, including nurses, public health professionals, and dieticians, traveled to Lansing to urge state legislators to make public health a priority in policy decisions that relate to our air, water, and the environment. This is the third cohort of the Health Leaders Fellowship, a program designed to educate health professionals of all types about critical environmental health issues and empower them to make an impact in their local communities and at the state level. The fellows were in the Capitol to share their knowledge about the importance of public health when it comes to energy policies and ending childhood lead poisoning.

In the morning, Ecology Center staff held training sessions for the fellows, providing information and best practices regarding campaign planning, advocacy, and how to speak with elected officials. After breaking into groups and practicing their talking points, the fellows and Ecology Center staff members headed out for 20 meetings with senators and representatives.

Health professionals are some of the most trusted spokespeople and are uniquely positioned to tackle some of our most pressing public health issues. Health Leaders have the first-hand experience and knowledge to highlight the connections between the policies that decision makers enact and the community impacts they have.

Overall, the day was a success with many fellows feeling energized and excited about future advocacy opportunities and meetings with elected officials. They found that the state legislators valued the input and knowledge of their constituents and health professionals.

Although the Flint crisis has been the primary focus of legislative conversations about lead, Michigan’s children across the state remain at risk for lead poisoning.  The Health Leaders Fellows met with legislators to educate them about the many proactive steps that the state can take to finally end lead poisoning in Michigan, including advocating for increased funding in the state budget for lead abatement.

For Michigan’s energy future, there is still much uncertainty.  The Senate Energy and Technology Committee has been meeting to discuss proposed legislation that is a step in the wrong direction for Michigan. In their current form, Senate Bills 437 and 438 would repeal Michigan’s successful renewable energy and energy efficiency standards and redefine clean energy to include waste incineration. If enacted, these bills would result in an increase in air pollution, poor health outcomes, and increased costs for Michigan families. 

Update: On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Technology voted the bills out of committee. Now is the time to contact your State Senator and urge them to reject Senate Bills 437 and 438. Take Action

Published on May 24, 2016