The 86th Legislature officially adjourned “Sine Die” on May 27. As lawmakers return home, the Governor must review over 1,429 pieces of legislation awaiting his approval or veto. Over 7,000 pieces of legislation were filed during the 86th Regular Session. Many proposals promoting physical activity and children’s health were passed thanks to the work of our volunteers at March Forth Capitol Day and advocates who made calls or sent letters during critical votes.
Here’s a quick synopsis of those key measures supported by The Cooper Institute that remain law or will soon become law:
This session there were efforts to repeal certain portions of the Education Code which included the requirement for physical fitness assessments. But thanks to your voices and numerous coalition partners, the recommendation to repeal the physical fitness requirement was not adopted. Additionally, the Legislature continued its commitment to fund implementation of FitnessGram in our Texas public schools by budgeting $2M in the Texas Education Agency’s budget as a result of the passage of House Bill 1 (2020-2021 Texas Budget).
Texas Tobacco 21
Thanks to your efforts, Senate Bill 21 now awaits Governor Abbott’s signature after passing both chambers. This key bill increases the legal sale age for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 (except for military personnel). Tobacco usage is the leading cause of preventable death and costs the state an estimated $8.85 billion a year in direct health care costs and $1.96 billion annually in Medicaid costs. By delaying the age when young people first begin to use tobacco, we can reduce the risk of developing a deadly addiction. This legislation will play a key role in keeping tobacco products and e-cigarettes out of Texas high schools and away from youth.
Recess for our Kids
UPDATE: Vetoed on 6/15/10
More Texas public school students will have the opportunity to engage in recess and stay physically active while at school. HB 455 directs school districts to set and adopt their own official recess policies. Recess has proven to be a valuable component for maintaining and improving child health and has shown to have a positive impact on student academic achievement. By requiring the implementation of a formal recess policy, it will be easier for parents to have a clear understanding of what level of recess their child receives.
Early Care & Education
Nearly 75% of kids under the age of six spend much of their day in child care, which is where most kids begin forming nutrition and physical activity habits. In Texas, that’s nearly 1 million young kids in licensed or regulated child care programs. SB 952 simply updates the minimum standards for state-licensed childcare facilities in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, and screen time. By complying with these updated standards, children begin developing lifelong habits at an early age.
We are so thankful to the many supporters of The Cooper Institute and the many advocates for children’s health. Together, we can all make sure our children build life-long healthy habits so they can live #WELLintothefuture.