Legislative-Briefs-Government-actions-on-obesity

Legislative Briefs: Government actions on obesity

State deciding fate of New Orleans ferries
A recent study from nonprofit Ride New Orleans found that most people taking the city's ferries depend on them to get to and from work. But the fate of New Orleans’ ferries is uncertain with state lawmakers yet to make a final decision.
Nonprofit Ride New Orleans interviewed more than 1,500 individuals and found that 51 percent of riders use the ferries to get to their jobs – many in the hospitality, service and tourism industries – and 19 percent do not have access to a car.
The ferries – large ships that cross between the East Bank and West Bank straddling the Mississippi River – are in line for serious budget cuts unless a state bill is passed in the next few days. Senate Bill 215 by Sen. David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, provides long-term financing to run at least the Chalmette-to-Lower-Algiers ferry and opens the door for an office of the state to operate all ferries and charge a fare to cover remaining expenses. Previously the Department of Transportation and Development ran the ferries and funding came from the now nonexistent tolls drivers had to pay to cross the Crescent City Connection bridge. The bill would allow for another agency, such as the Regional Planning Commission or the Regional Transit Authority, to take over the service.
To learn more about the ferry system and Ride New Orleans' report, visit rideneworleans.org.

New Orleans named Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community
Miles of newly striped bike lanes have led to a growing movement in New Orleans with many people taking to their bikes either for fun, exercise or as part of their daily commute. The city's progress was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award on May 20. A combination of both public and private parties have helped create policies, street improvements and safety programs that promote bicycling, including the New Orleans City Council, Regional Planning Commission (RPC), Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC), University of New Orleans Transportation Institute (UNOTI), Bike Easy, Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), Entergy Corporation, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and local citizens.
To read more about New Orleans' Bronze award, visit www.bikeleague.org.

Food store tax incentive plan stalled in Louisiana Legislature
A statewide proposal that would help food stores sell fresh fruits and vegetables is not likely to move forward before the Louisiana legislative session ends.
House Bill 570 by Rep. Girod Jackson, D-Harvey, proposes setting up a tax credit for grocery stores in food deserts that buy produce (fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats) from Louisiana companies. Each designated food desert business would be eligible for a one-percent tax credit on its gross sales, not exceeding a tax credit of $10,000 per year. The total amount of tax credits for all qualified businesses under the program would be capped at $2 million per year. The bill never made it past a House committee, so it has yet to clear the House or Senate. The 2013 regular legislative session ends June 6.

Louisiana public schools must provide breastfeeding support
Public schools in Louisiana must offer employees appropriate space and time to pump if breastfeeding their children, according to a new law adopted by the state legislature on May 21.
The law, House Bill 635 by Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport, requires schools to provide a private room – separate from a restroom – for employees to pump or express breast milk. The law doesn’t require schools to build new rooms or add to buildings. The employee is given break time to do this for up to one year after the child’s birth.

by Naomi King Englar

Topics:   obesity , policy , built environment , kidswalk coalition , bike lanes , sidewalks , early childhood health , food environment

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