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State Voices Amplified During 2024 Hill Day

April 8, 2024

We held our 7th Annual Hill Day on March 28, 2024, with a new twist. This was the first year that instead of only including our board members, we facilitated the opportunity for our members to join us. We are pleased to report that 46 NEHA members made the trip - at their own cost - to meet with congressional delegations. This format gave us the advantage of having Congress hear directly from their constituents about environmental health in their states.

Hill Day is our opportunity to introduce and enlighten members of Congress, from both the House of Representatives and Senate, about environmental health in their state, how environmental health impacts their constituents, and ways to improve federal environmental health services to state and local communities. In the context of national politics, these visits are essential to any association seeking to promote their profession. Congress pays attention to groups that actively promote their profession and supports funding for federal agencies and activities that provide for their profession. Congress needs to hear and know that these efforts have an impact on their constituents and communities.

For the first time since the pandemic, we were able to host Hill Day in person, meaning the our members and board paid to travel to Washington, DC, to meet with their representatives in Congress. We hosted an orientation and reception (sponsored by NSF) at the Hilton Washington Capitol Hill on Wednesday, March 27, followed by visits to Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 28.

By the end of the day, 46 NEHA members (including 6 board members) had visited 83 congressional offices from 18 different states. We visited 30 Senate offices and 53 House offices. Further, these visits included 47 Democratic offices and 36 Republican offices.

Iowa, Texas, and Virginia had the largest delegations, allowing Iowa to meet their entire delegation and Virginia to meet with nine offices. Our one-person delegations from Alabama and Colorado met with five Congressional offices each, and the one-person delegation from Illinois met with six offices. Our two-person Florida delegation met with nine offices, while the three-person delegation from New Jersey met eight offices.

These meetings included visits to the offices of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Katie Britt (R-AL), Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO), Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). Our CEO Dr. David Dyjack met with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), whom he invited to speak at the our 2024 Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh. We also met with Representative Bob Aderholt (R-AL), the Subcommittee Appropriation chair for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Representative Dr. Marianne Miller-Meeks (R-IA), a former public health commissioner for Iowa.

Participants agreed on how supportive many of the offices were regarding environmental health, both in their states and at the national level. NEHA First Vice-President Larry Ramdin met with the staff of Senator Ed Markley (D-MA) and highlighted climate change. Ramdin stated, “NEHA has been talking about climate change for the past 20 years. I let him know that for insight into climate change and environmental health, he should talk to us.”

We shared the following requests with Congress:

  • The importance of environmental health and the environmental health workforce to the nation and each state.
  • The value of federal support to state, territorial, local, and tribal environmental health workforces through funding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH). Congress should provide at least $426 million to NCEH to ensure all if its programs are adequately funded.
  • The value of federal support of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Congress should provide $100 million for ATSDR in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2025.
  • The value of federal support for food safety programs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to appropriate at least $1,250 million in FY 2025 toward the food safety needs of FDA.

Based on the success of this year’s Hill Day, we are planning to host another in-person Hill Day for our members in March 2026. Affiliates should begin to plan on sending a delegation to meet with their members of Congress on the importance of environmental health.

For more information, contact Government Affairs Director Doug Farquhar.