Thursday, February 7, 2008
OLYMPIA - Sunnyside's Theresa Hancock trekked to Olympia yesterday to make her case for an anaphylaxis bill that would impact school districts across the state.
Hancock, whose granddaughter has a severe peanut allergy, traveled there with her daughter, Cheyenne LaViolette.
Hancock and LaViolette testified before the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. They also brought letters of testimony from Washingtonians who have a loved one at risk of anaphylactic shock.
Hancock brought the issue to light with local legislative representatives several months ago after her granddaughter, Emma, entered the school system.
Emma is so allergic to peanuts that coming into contact with 1/600th of a peanut could send her into anaphylactic shock. It was when she entered the school system that Hancock and LaViolette, Emma's mother, felt that there was little consistency or policy in the district or in school buildings.
"Emma doesn't have to eat peanuts. She just has to touch them. Even the smell makes her sick," said Hancock.
"We don't live in a bubble and I'm not asking the school district to live in a bubble...(but) I don't want to take the chance," she added.
Hancock said "suggested guidelines" in the school district aren't cutting it.
Hancock said that by the time her plane landed in Yakima yesterday, the committee had voted to pass it on to the ways and means committee to address the fiscal note.
She added that the only change requested by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) was to change implementation dates to get the guidelines ready to include all anaphylaxis, not just food allergy related anaphylaxis.
"It really seems to have some legs to this bill, and we have a very good chance at this point to take it somewhere," she said.
She said Sen. Jim Honeyford's support has been invaluable. She said that being heard by the committee of senators was government at its best, as is the fact that the bill is moving forward without the help of paid lobbyists.
OSPI is asking for $125,000 to implement the bill.