On May 4, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a bill that engages the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) in advising state lawmakers on healthy public policy. The law directs M-CHE to convene a workgroup that will make recommendations to state and local legislators to inform laws and policies that will promote health equity and have a positive impact on the life of Maryland’s residents.
The bill also specifies that the M-CHE will conduct a health impact assessment on issues of access to safe and affordable housing, education, employment opportunities, environment and public safety, among others. The legislation was introduced by a group of Maryland lawmakers including Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who is a member of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
The bill emphasizes the “Health in all Policies” collaborative approach outlined by the American Public Health Association, which aims to ensure that policymakers and stakeholders include health considerations in their decision making across sectors and policy areas. Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, M-CHE director, provided testimony when the bill was being considered by the state legislature this spring, highlighting that a “Health in All Policies” approach identifies how decisions in multiple sectors can affect health, and emphasizing that better health can support the goals of these multiple sectors.