Several smaller bills of interest to public health have made it through the session’s first cutoff, with a couple of bills from the 2021 session beginning the process in the opposite chamber. Like last year, policy action has started in the House and will be shifting to the Senate for the second half of session. A sample of bills that made it past the first cut-off:
- HB 1074: A 2021 bill that is moving along this session. It passed early off the House floor and has been assigned to Senate Health and Long Term Care. We expect it to be heard after the House of origin cutoff and to have some movement through the Senate. It has bipartisan support and will be an important tool for community coalitions to use in addressing local behavioral health needs.
- HB 1607: Create the Safe Routes to School program within the Department of Transportation. For communities who have implemented local programs and initiatives, this would help coordinate local, state, and federal efforts. While the bill hasn’t been heard in Appropriations, it could be funded through a budget proviso. Safe Routes to School is an evidence-based program that schools, public safety, transportation, and public health implement as child safety coalitions.
- HB 1621: This bill would create programs to increase sexual assault nurse examiner training across the state. These nurses, also called SANE nurses, are used when treating victims of assault. Some LHJs have public health nurses with this training and the bill would encourage additional opportunities for healthcare and public health nurses to undergo this training. The bill has bipartisan support and is scheduled for an executive session in Appropriations on February 4.
- HB 1684: Has been referred to House Appropriations after a substitute bill was passed out of Local Government on party lines. Included in the substitute is a shift of rulemaking from the Department of Health to the State Board of Health as well as parameters for cost analyses and rulemaking. It has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.
- HB 1739: Would require hospitals to adopt policies that address all pathogens of epidemiological concern that pose risks to patients, health care workers, and visitors. This bill is an extension of previous budget items that funded pilot healthcare-acquired infections (HAI) programs. Our large local health jurisdictions have been working with our major healthcare systems to understand and reduce the incidence of HAI within these systems. This bill takes this initial work and expands it statewide. Currently, the bill is in House Rules where it waits to be pulled for a floor vote.