Friday, January 29, 2010

Update: MA School Nutrition Bill

It took a little investigating (and some decoding) to figure it out: the School Nutrition Bill passed the House!

Thanks for calling and/or writing your Legislators. It does make a difference. I know there was a lot of movement on the ground Thursday morning among advocates for school wellness and nutrition policy even though I couldn't join them.

You can access the legislative history of the newly numbered bill (HB 4441) at the Massachusetts website. Each Amendment was adopted in turn, with a few hiccups (i.e. "referred to House Rules" and "Rules Suspended") along the way.

Need a little more information about what took place yesterday?? ...

Well to be clear, the bill has been officially "Passed to be Engrossed." SAY WHAT?!

Ok, I am pretty new to this health policy thing so I had to do some googl'ing to figure out just what that means. According to the Massachusetts Bar Association
"After a bill has been 'passed to be engrossed' in each branch, it is sent to the Engrossing Division for engrossment. Engrossment is the printing of a bill on special parchment. Following engrossment a bill is sent to the House of Representatives for enactment. Enactment is the last step in the legislative process before a bill is sent to the governor. Usually enactment is a formality, but sometimes a controversial bill will be debated and even rejected at this point. After the House enacts a bill it is sent on to the Senate for enactment. An engrossed bill in the enactment stage may generally not be amended on the floor of the House or Senate. Following enactment in the Senate a bill is then delivered to the Governor."
So it seems there are a few more steps left.
  1. The Senate must pass a like bill to be "engrossed" (i.e. printed on special paper).
  2. The engrossed bill must be sent to the House for "enactment" (i.e. there may be further debate, but usually this goes smoothly).
  3. The bill enacted by the House is sent to the Senate for "enactment".
  4. The Senate bill is given to the Governor to sign.
I guess this means we still have some work left to do. I'll try to keep you updated as we move toward providing a healthier school environment for all our kids in Massachusetts!

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