Two bills addressing children’s health advance

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Adolescents in childcare centers would be curtailed from plopping down in front of TVs while washing down junk food with sugary drinks under legislation that has passed the state Senate by a 34-0 vote.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 45, would require licensed childcare centers to meet the most recent version of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s food and nutrition standards for child and adult care centers. A second nutrition provision would set standards for sugary drinks.

“SB 45 … simply addresses childcare standards for all licensed childcare centers within the commonwealth,” Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, said while explaining SB 45 yesterday on the Senate floor. “These are standards that are followed by the vast majority of facilities, but this will bring all facilities under the umbrella.”

SB 45 would also require childcare centers to meet certain physical activity, sugary drink and screen time standards. That term is used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching television.

In other activity from the Senate floor, a spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) screening bill also cleared the chamber to a 34-0 vote.

That measure, known as Senate Bill 60, would require the screening for newborns, said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, who sponsored the legislation.

He explained the Food and Drug Administration recently approved gene therapy for children under 2 who have infantile-onset SMA. The therapy has improved muscle movement, function and survival of children who receive an early diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“This bill was brought to my attention by a family of a young man … in my district who was born with this disease several years ago,” Higdon said.

SB 45 and SB 6 now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.