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Chiropractors, Putnam gain ground

Committees on Wednesday passed school-health measures that address nutrition and head injuries. Here are details:

Chiropractors win one

Over objections of the Florida Medical Association, chiropractors muscled their way into a bill that would require schools to set up policies for handling head injuries in school sports.

The bill (HB 301) says schools must set up a policy that allows only a licensed physician to clear a student who has suffered head injury to play again. Chiropractors were upset because that would have excluded them from clearing students to return to athletics.

Chiropractors do not attend medical school or receive the same training as a licensed physician, the FMA argued, and therefore are not in a position to know whether a head injury has healed.

But Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, succeeded in attaching an amendment that would add chiropractors to the list of allowed physicians to clear a student for athletics.0

Though the amended bill was passed by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, several lawmakers expressed reservations about it. Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said she supports the concept of preventing head injuries but said the bill still “needs more work.”

The Senate version (SB 730) has one committee stop left.

Shift on school nutrition makes headway

A plan to shift oversight of Florida’s school nutrition programs from the Department of Education to another agency was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The bill (HB 7219) would shift the programs to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Such a move requires a waiver, or approval, from the federal government.

The proposal has been championed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam as a way to increase efficiencies and ensure students get more servings of fruits and vegetables. Putnam personally paid a visit to the House committee to tell lawmakers why the change was needed.

“We view this as an opportunity to leverage the relationships we have with small farms and to build on programs that are already going in our school districts where kids, as part of their lesson plans, are growing gardens that can be then turned into school feeding programs,” Putnam said.

The Senate version has one more committee stop – the Budget Committee – before heading to the full Senate for a vote.