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LIVE Blog: Senate Health Committee April 29

LIVE Blog: Senate Health Committee April 29

Update 7:55 pm

Unfortunately, SB 203 (Monning) did not receive enough votes to make it out of Senate Health Committee. Our allies, and the bill's sponsor, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, puts it best:

Update 6:23 pm

Senator Richard Pan expressed support for the bill saying "I do believe the science and the rationale is there." Senator Lois Wolk also expressed support for the bill.

Senator Monning offered a powerful closing argument before the committee voted.

"Use is going up in some communities because of specific, targeted marketing," he said. "Do you want to take the word of the American Beverage Association or the American Heart Association? ... This is not the solution because the problem is too complex, but this is a tool that can help families make an informed decision."

The bill is currently on call with four "yes" votes.

Update 6:05 pm

Many supporters of Senator Monning's SB 203 soda warning label bill have stayed around during today's long Senate Health Committee hearing. CPEHN was included in this list. As a reminder, last year we released a brief with UC San Francisco and the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, Not So Sweet: Confronting the Health Crisis from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in California that shows some of the links between sugary drink consumption and health conditions like diabetes.

Senator Holly Mitchell expressed her disappointment with the state legislature's efforts to reduce diabetes and obesity.

"This body has to figure out how to have a meaningful conversation about this as a public health issue," Senator Mitchell said. "We've addressed other public health issues in this committee in the past couple weeks. ... We need to recognize what our lack of public policy attention on this issue has done to my community and communities across our state. ... It is a public health crisis facing our nation."

Update 5:55 pm

After a long day of interesting debate on a number of bills, the Senate Health Committee finally heard SB 203 (Monning). This bill would put a warning label on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages to notify consumers of the associated health risks.

"We're in the midst of diabetes and obesity epidemic that is wreaking havoc on public health and driving up costs," Monning said. "What used to be called adult onset diabetes we're now seeing in teenagers. By doing nothing... we will see the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. ... SB 203 will allow consumers to make an informed decision about the health risks in the beverages they purchase. ... The science is clear, sugar-sweetened beverages are fueling the youth obesity crisis and tooth decay."

Dr. Harold Goldstein from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy testified following Senator Monning's opening statement.

"We are in the midst of a diabetes epidemic," Goldstein said. "One 20 ounce soda has 16 teaspoons of sugar. ... Kids now are being found to have the equivalent of fatty liver disease as if they were alcoholics. The liver fat isn't from alcohol, it is because they are from drinking sugar. ... The single most important thing we can do to get ahead of the obesity epidemic is to let people know that this product, filled with sugar, is a leading cause."

Darcel Lee from the California Black Health Network followed with testimony about diabetes in the black community.

"Half of all African American children will develop diabetes in their lifetime," Lee said. "The consumption rate of sugar-sweetened beverages is higher among African Americans than any other racial or ethnic group. ... We have enough science to prove that there is a product that is killing us. It is time we took action and changed the trends."

Update 2:20 pm

Darcel Lee, the President and CEO of our ethnic partner organization, the California Black Health Network, testified on behalf of SB 675 (Liu), which would require a hospital to notify family caregivers of a patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility and provide information or instruction regarding the posthospital care needs of the patient. Lee stressed that if caregivers receive more information, then patients will receive better care upon discharge from the hospital. She noted that this would help reduce rates of preventable readmissions.

The bill received enough votes to pass out of the committee.

Update 2:10 pm

Today's Senate Health Committee hearing has a full slate of bills, many that will have an impact on the health of California's communities of color. 

The bill receiving perhaps the most attention today is Senator Bill Monning's SB 203, which will create a warning label for sodas and other sugar sweetened beverages to notify consumers of the health risks associated with these beverages.

The hearing is underway. Be sure to check back here for updates throughout the afternoon.

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