Feeling Good MN outlines 2019 Legislative priorities

The Minnesota Legislative session kicked off on Tuesday, January 8th in St. Paul, MN. Meanwhile in St. Cloud, the Feeling Good MN team is gearing up to work with elected leaders to adopt policies that improve health. Specifically, our goals are to support efforts to lower chronic disease rates, reduce healthcare costs and make healthy options automatic, affordable and accessible for everyone. Our four key legislative focus areas this year include:

Healthy Food Access: Feeling Good MN supports annual appropriations to the Good Food Access Fund (GFAF). More than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining healthy, affordable food. The GFAF, established through bipartisan legislation in 2016, helps solve this problem by providing grants, loans and technical assistance to support existing or new businesses (like grocery stores, farmers markets, mobile markets and more) that sell healthy, affordable foods in areas that otherwise lack access. Demand for GFAF dollars has consistently exceeded available funding, and a new appropriation is needed in 2019 to continue the program.

Tobacco 21: Feeling Good MN supports statewide legislation that increases the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Nearly 90% of addicted adult smokers started smoking by age 18. Nicotine is addictive, and adolescents and young adults are more susceptible to its effects because their brains are still developing. Increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco will help keep tobacco out of schools and prevent teenagers from starting to smoke. Numerous Minnesota cities and counties have already started to act by passing local T21 ordinances.

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation: Feeling Good MN supports dedicated state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that help people quit and prevent youth from becoming addicted. Each year, more than 6,300 Minnesotans die from tobacco use and tobacco costs the state $7 billion in excess health and productivity costs. Meanwhile, last year the state collected more than $840 million in tobacco revenue and only a small fraction of that was spent on health.

Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP): Feeling Good MN supports maintaining stable, statewide funding for SHIP at $35 million per biennium to help all Minnesotans live healthier, longer lives and continue to drive down state health care costs.

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