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Historic day for Shared Use legislation

Governor Branstad Signs HF 570 Into Law


Supporters of a bill known both as “Community Use” and “The Sledding” Bill gathered today in Gov. Terry Branstad’s office to witness the signing of the bill into law.

House File 570, which clarified liability protection for both communities and schools choosing to provide facilities where activities such exercise and sledding take place, passed through both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in late March. Specifically, the Bridging Solutions for a Healthier Iowa coalition, led by the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate, advocated for the change so that schools who wanted to open their doors after hours to their community as a place for physical activity could do so.

“It is truly gratifying to see Iowa Legislators understand this was a necessary change to ensure Iowans had access to facilities that encourage activities that support a healthier lifestyle,” said Stacy Frelund, Government Relations Director – Iowa for the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate. “By removing this barrier, schools, in particular, have more opportunities to support healthy recreational activities.

The coalition shared studies that show when people have access to exercise facilities they are more likely to be physically active. For some communities, the school is the only place with the space and facilities where people could exercise. The coalition had commissioned a survey of Iowa’s superintendents in late 2014, which demonstrated more than half of the schools surveyed did not engage in community use agreements because of concerns about liability. Almost 65 percent of the surveyed superintendents indicated they would be inclined to open their facilities with liability protection.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart supported the bill throughout the process. “Our schools are public, and we encourage community use of our facilities,” he said. “PreK-12 education is our number one priority, but we can’t successfully fulfill this mission without partnering with a wide range of community partners. Working together in our schools helps us develop shared understanding and makes better use of the huge investment our communities have made in our facilities.”

For more information about the community use initiative, visit or contact Frelund at (515) 414-3207.




By |April 2nd, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Governor Branstad to Host Formal Signing of HF 570 Clarifying Liability Protection for Schools and Communities

Who: Governor Branstad, the American Heart Association, members of the Bridging Solutions to a Healthier Iowa coalition and volunteer advocates
Interviews Available:
Stacy Frelund, Iowa Director of Government Relations, American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate
What:   Governor Branstad will host a formal signing of HF 570 to make it law.  The bill, known both as the “Community Use” and “The Sledding” Bill, clarifies liability protection for schools and communities who wish to open their facilities for public use and was passed unanimously out of both the House of Representatives and Senate in March. 
Following the signing, the American Heart Association will host a brief reception to thank those that advocated for the legislation.
When:  Wednesday, April 1, 2:00-3:00 PM
Where:  Iowa State Capitol, Governor Branstad’s formal office, Reception to be held in the First Floor Rotunda
Why:  Studies show when people have access to exercise facilities they are more likely to be physically active. Many schools are reluctant to open their facilities to their communities because liability concerns are a primary challenge to open these doors. A recent survey of Iowa’s superintendents demonstrated more than half of the schools surveyed do not engage in shared use agreements because of concerns about liability. It should be noted that 64.2 percent of the surveyed superintendents would be more inclined to open their facilities with liability protection.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. We are the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, contact our local office at 319-378-1763, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


By |March 31st, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Sign the Petition to Help Open Doors for Community Use!

Click here to view and sign the Petition for Community Use.

Studies show that people who have parks or recreational facilities nearby exercise 38 percent more than those who don’t have easy access. Unfortunately, safe places to get physical activity aren’t always available – but they could be.

Schools are present in nearly every Iowa community and can offer a variety of safe, clean facilities, including running tracks, pools, gymnasiums, fitness rooms, and playgrounds. Unfortunately, schools that might like to offer these facilities often close their property to the public after school hours due to concerns about liability.

Community Use legislation would not mandate that schools open their facilities after hours, but would simply alleviate concerns about liability for those that would like to provide access to the surrounding community.

By |March 26th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Community Use Legislation Clears both House and Senate

The Iowa House of Representatives and Iowa Senate both voted unanimously for HF 570, which will open more schoolhouse doors for exercise and recreational activities. The legislation removes barriers to use of school property by clarifying liability protection for schools. Now on to the Governor’s desk!

By |March 23rd, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Tell Us Why You Support Community Use

We have been working closely with the Iowa Legislature to make it easier for schools to open their doors for community use to give Iowans more places to get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Why do you support community use of schools? Let us know in the comments below and you could win one of the these cool prizes!

  • First Place: Wrist Activity Tracker
  • Second Place: Mini Bluetooth Speaker
  • Third Place: Kangaroo Water Bottle


By |March 6th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Post Funnel Update

This was “Funnel Week” which means that March 6 was the last day for bills to pass out of committee in their chamber of origin in order to stay alive. Below are the bills that passed out of committees this week to remain eligible for consideration this session.

Shared/Community Use of Schools

Our new campaign coordinator, Adam Fanning, has been working hard reaching out to schools across the state to secure quotes and success stories while garnering even more support for our Community Use of Schools legislation. We worked together with school administrators, the School Board Association and trial attorneys to reach an agreement on the language in the bills in order to help move them forward in the process.

Both House Study Bill 35 (formerly HSB 22) and Senate Study Bill 1247 (formerly SSB 1081) have been passed out of committee with unanimous votes! Now both bills will be moving to the floor of their respective chambers.

Safe Routes to School

We continue to have discussions with key lawmakers in both the House and Senate about a $1 million funding ask (Senate File 32) for Safe Routes to School. The Revenue Estimating Conference will be held on March 19th to discuss the revenue estimates and will help the legislature in making budget decisions in the upcoming months. Once the budget targets are set, we will have a better sense of the overall budget and how the funding issues we are working on will be impacted.

Mission Lifeline

On February 3rd, we made a BIG announcement about the Helmsley Family Charitable Trust giving us $4.6 million for our Mission Lifeline program which will enhance systems of care, save lives, and improve outcomes for heart patients in rural Iowa. We are hoping that the state will help us with implementing this program throughout Iowa by adding $1 million so that more areas of the state can be covered.

You can read the press release about these efforts here.

By |March 6th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Update: Community Use Bill Continues to Move Through the Iowa House

Late March 4, HSB 35 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on a 21-0 vote.  It will now be redrafted as a committee bill and given a new House File number. Stay tuned for more information!

By |March 5th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Support of SSB 1247 Heard in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Meeting

Today, SSB 1247, our bill for Community Use was discussed in an Iowa Senate Judiciary Subcommittee meeting. We had several supporters who spoke in favor of shared use:

They included:

  • American Heart Association volunteers Butch Gibbs and Tera Hamann
  • Iowa Association of School Boards, Emily Piper
  • YMCAs, Kent Hartwig
  • United Way of Central Iowa
  • Metro Planning Organizations, David Adelman
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Jenny Stiletto

In addition, a representative from the Department of Public Health spoke and said both her department and the Governor support the bill.

Ultimately, Senator Sodders and Senator Schneider signed off on the subcommittee report.  Senator Hogg wants time to “take it under advisement.” The bill is on the agenda for the full Judiciary Committee meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.

By |March 4th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

American Diabetes Association Supports Community Use

The American Diabetes Association believes that schools should serve as models of healthy behavior encouraging both physical activity and proper nutrition.  The Association believes that increasing access to safe facilities, such as our schools, for community recreation and exercise is a positive step toward improving the health of students and communities.
Gary Dougherty
Associate Director-State Government Affairs
By |February 27th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

We Encourage Community Use of Our Facilities

A show of support from the Des Moines Public Schools:

“Our schools are public, and we encourage community use of our facilities. PreK-12 education is our number one priority, but we can’t successfully fulfill this mission without partnering with a wide range of community partners. Working together in our schools helps us develop shared understanding and makes better use of the huge investment our communities have made in our facilities.”


Dr. Thomas M. Ahart,
Superintendent of Schools, Des Moines Public Schools

By |February 20th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments