On February 29th, 2012, a rainy and usually warm Wednesday morning, I had the chance to go to the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Legislative Day at the Georgia Sate Capitol otherwise know to the locals “The Gold Dome”! This special day is where fellow Georgia Registered Dietitians come together to lobby at the State Capitol and meet with the State Legislators and Key Leaders Officials. This is a crucial time for Registered Dietitians especially for the fight for keeping licensure.
At 9:30 am all of the Registered Dietitians met for a Advocacy workshop with guest speaker Mildred Cody, PhD, RD, LD, Georgia Academy President Holly Porter and State Policy Representative Sharon Rhodes, MS, RD, LD. All them discuss about the issues dealing with Senate Bill 445 which was introduced by Senator Bill Hamrick on behalf of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. The bill proposed a shift in authority from 43 professional licensing boards to a newly created director of professional licensing and a seven-member consumer board. The bill was met with opposition in the Senate hearing on February 21st by many of the affected organizations. The main objection was the bill in its current state did not clearly define the relationship between the seven-member consumer board and the current licensure board that will become the advisory board. The Secretary of State’s office has withdrawn Senate Bill 445. Secretary Kemp said the bill is too big to modify and get passed before the legislative session ends. Kemp intends to take the criticisms he heard and try again with revised legislation in 2013. The RD Legislative Day was a day to regroup and let out legislative constitutes learn about Senate Bill 445 and to get ready for a fight in 2013.
Why should Dietitians and Nutritionists be licensed? Licensing of Dietitians and Nutritionist protects the public health by establishing minimum educational and experience criteria for those individuals who hold themselves out to be experts in food and nutrition. The state has an obligation to protect the health and safety of the public and licensing of dietitians and nutritionists is consistent with this obligation. (This answer is from the Georgia Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition.)
Currently, Georgia is the longest state to issue licenses and needs to improve the efficiency of administering them. The Rd Legislative Day sponsored Luncheon in honoring the State Legislators and Key Leaders which gave us a chance to talk about the importance of licensure and try to get involve in changing the Senate Bill 445. Having Rd Legislative Day has allowed us to increase our political visibility and to educate the key lawmakers on who we are and what we do to promote and protect the health of the public. The end result of this special day has been able to allow us to establish and build a relationship with our state level lawmakers.
To schedule an appointment to speak with a Registered Dietitian for a Nutritional Consultation click on www.livinghealthy1.org .
Click here to see pictures of Rd Legislative Day.