IAPO Legislative Wrap Up – Spring 2014

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For the first time this year, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO) pursued a legislative agenda in Springfield. We are thrilled to report success in both of our priority areas and thank all of our IAPO partners for supporting these initiatives in a variety of ways:

Physical Education

Both IAPO-supported bills to enhance physical education passed the Illinois legislature!

  • HB 5397 helps to enhance P.E. in Illinois by supporting the development of physically literate students in life-long fitness and health through the implementation of health-focused, science-based student physical fitness assessment in all Illinois schools.  The bill creates as Task Force to recommend the protocols for fitness assessment and how and when schools will report the data to the State Board of Education to aggregate as a state-level fitness surveillance system.  The legislation calls for assessing student aerobic capacity, muscular strength, flexibility and endurance, four of the assessment indicators found in the nationally recognized FITNESSGRAM physical fitness assessment. Legislators stressed that FITNESSGRAM is a FREE fitness testing methodology available to schools through the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.

Read IAPO’s fact sheet for more information.

  • SB 3274, which passed unanimously, creates a state designation of “highly qualified” P.E. and health teachers, allowing a teacher who teaches physical education or health education in public schools to be recognized as meeting the requirements for highly qualified status that apply to teachers who teach in other core academic subjects.

Now IAPO will work to make sure the Governor signs them and implementation begins across the state.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

IAPO celebrates the success of the first year of the multi-year campaign to pass the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act, which places a modest penny per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and invests the revenues in prevention and Medicaid.

IAPO’s 2014 goal was to have the HEAL Act heard in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly. The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee held a hearing on the legislation last March and the House Revenue & Finance Committee heard the bill in late May (this time as an amendment to a revenue bill). Although the bills didn’t make it past the committees this year, the hearings opened a public debate on the health impacts caused by sugary drinks.

IAPO will continue to educate the public around the issue and will take up the cause again in the next legislative session and for as long as it takes to see it through to passage.

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