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WPHA-WALHDAB PA Committee Affairs Update

Wednesday, April 22, 2015  
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WPHA-WALHDAB State Government Affairs Report:

The WALHDAB-WPHA Joint Public Affairs Committee strives to keep members updated on the latest legislative and regulatory developments in the State Capitol and throughout state government. Please find below a brief summary on the organizations’ recent government affairs activities:

State Budget Items:

• Communicable disease funding: 
As part of the state budget bill (AB 21/SB 21), WPHA-WALHDAB is asking the Legislature to approve an annual appropriation of $2.5 million to control and prevent communicable disease in Wisconsin. Under the proposal, DHS would distribute the funding to local health departments, which would utilize the funding for disease surveillance; contact tracing; staff training; public education and outreach; and other infection control measures required under state law.

While the state’s current fiscal situation makes the funding request politically challenging, the WALHDAB-WHPA government affairs team is focused on educating legislators about the need for a dedicated, stable funding source for communicable disease control and prevention. Legislative outreach efforts include direct lobbying; member advocacy; board of health/county board resolutions; and an earned media campaign.

• Tattooing, body piercing and tanning regulation:
The state budget bill contains a provision that would transfer the regulation of tattooing, body piercing, and tanning from DHS to the newly created Dept. of Financial Services and Professional Standards (the combination of the current Dept. of Financial Institutions and the Dept. of Safety and Professional Services). The concern of WPHA-WALHDAB is the potential loss of the public health aspect of regulation over these businesses. The WALHDAB-WPHA government affairs team will be meeting with the DSPS Secretary’s office later this month to discuss the transition and how the proposed transfer would impact public health. WPHA-WALHDAB will also be proving input/recommendations in regards to the potential regulatory transfer.

State Lab of Hygiene transfer (click here for more information): 
The state budget bill contains provisions that would transfer the State Laboratory of Hygiene (SLH) to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and drastically restructure/reduce state funding for the Lab. The proposes transfer would negatively affect the ability of the SLH to provide the amount and quality of services the public health community relies on to protect public health and safety. The funding reductions would translate into a significant loss of capacity to address the needs of state and local agencies and respond to biological, chemical or radiological emergencies. WALHDAB-WPHA government affairs team is supporting the SLH in their efforts to remove these provisions from the budget bill.

Pending Legislation:

Assembly Bill 72 Senate Bill 10: This legislation would prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol in Wisconsin.

o WPHA/WALHDAB position: SUPPORT

o Bill status: Introduction; no further action

Assembly Bill 94 / Senate Bill 46: This legislation would do the following: 1.) Make it a felony to harm or kill an infant by co-sleeping while intoxicated; and 2.) Require hospitals, health care providers and public health officials to distribute educational materials to expecting parents about the dangers of intoxicated co-sleeping.

o WPHA/WALHDAB position: NEUTRAL (as amended by Amendment 1)

o Bill status: Introduction; public hearing on SB 46

o Amendment Summary:
The amendment would delay the criminal penalties for one year after passage of the bill and require the education component to focus on all aspects of safe sleep, and not just the dangers of intoxicated co-sleeping.

Assembly Bill 146: This legislation would specifically include vapor products (i.e., e-cigarettes) under Wisconsin’s statewide smoke-free air law. 

o WPHA/WALHDAB position: SUPPORT

o Bill status: Introduction; no further action


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