It hasn’t been quite 24 hours since SB 1000 (Monning): the sugar sweetened beverages safety warning bill stalled in the California Assembly’s Health Committee. For our staff, the sting of defeat hasn’t yet gone away.
Knowing that type 2 diabetes (diabetes) has reached epidemic levels in the Latino community, and that caloric sweeteners, especially sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are some of the leading causes of this disease, makes it even harder for us to accept this defeat. We tried to go up against the beverage industry, but from day one, we were outmatched both in terms of the resources we could use to advocate for the warning label, as well as the influence that the beverage industry has in Sacramento and in key districts across the state.
An especially telling indicator of the depth of industry’s influence was their ability to kill this bill in the Assembly Health committee. This is the body that is responsible for protecting the health of all Californians. This committee has done some really incredible work helping to get the Affordable Care Act established in California. But yesterday afternoon, after Senator Monning introduced the bill and called for action; after the co-sponsors—California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, California Medical Association, and the California Black Health Network— provided supportive testimony; and after nearly 100 organizations representing hospitals, medical associations, nurses, labor, clinics, and health advocate partners went up one by one to the microphone to offer support, our hopes were deflated after the first round of voting.
Some legislators came right out and acknowledged that a warning label was not the singular solution, but that it is a valuable part of a more comprehensive set of activities that, in concert, could start to chip away at the complex roots of diabetes.
We thank Assemblymembers Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento), Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Chesbro (D-North Coast), Hernandez (D-West Covina), Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), and Wiecowski (D-Fremont) for their leadership in addressing the public health nightmare that is diabetes in the Latino community.
We invite those legislators that voted no—Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), Gonzales (D-San Diego), Chavez (R-Oceanside), Maienschein (R-San Diego), Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), Nestande (R-Palm Desert), Patterson (R-Fresno), and Wagner (R-Irvine)—or who abstained—Bonilla (D-Concord), Bonta (D-Oakland), Gomez (D-Los Angeles), and Rodriguez (D-Pomona)—to make diabetes a priority for our state moving forward. We offer our expertise, our statewide resources, and our commitment to help you find meaningful solutions that will help to prevent this disease that affects most of our families.
In the coming year, LCHC will double our efforts to raise critical consciousness about the preventable chronic diseases that disproportionately affect our community. We invite you to be a part of the community forums LCHC will be hosting across the state to discuss the complex social roots of chronic disease, and to help us identify meaningful policy solutions.
The sting of defeat is only temporary. The redness is fading away and we are regrouping. With your continued support, we will come back even stronger.