On May 1, 2018, NEHA's board of directors descended on Washington, DC, to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for NEHA members and the environmental health profession. The board spent the day meeting with U.S. Congress staff from the Senate and House of Representatives. In total, over 43 offices from both political parties were visited to ensure that the environmental health profession is at the table when it comes to major policy decisions. "Hill Day provides a potent opportunity to communicate the value of the environmental health profession directly to key political decision makers and influencers," stated NEHA Executive Director Dr. David Dyjack.
The major focus of the meetings was to highlight to the highest level of influencers why we work as credentialed environmental health professionals and the importance of a credentialed environmental health workforce to protect public health and safety. NEHA board members discussed the importance of having national guidelines so that every state has a credentialed environmental health workforce. As NEHA President-Elect Sandra Long put it, "Hill Day was a wonderful opportunity to put a face on environmental health and provide education on the profession and its issues."
NEHA board members and staff then asked members of Congress for their support of the Environmental Health Workforce Act (HR 1909 and S 2616), which were introduce by Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), respectively. These two pieces of legislation will ensure that the 22 states currently not requiring credentials for those doing environmental health work to start credentialing this workforce. Many staffers on both sides of the political aisle expressed deep interest in learning more about the bills and promised to discuss the legislation with their elected officials. "With our lobbying efforts this May, NEHA's board of directors has moved from accepting what is given to environmental health to playing an active role of our profession's future," commented NEHA Second Vice-President Roy Kroeger.
Also discussed during these meetings was the importance of funding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR). NCEH/ATSDR is a critical partner with NEHA in developing national environmental health programs. NEHA board members told stories about how NCEH/ ATSDR work helps in every aspect of...