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Policy & Advocacy

We believe – and research shows – that policy changes can have a major impact in improving community health. This is why the Horizon Foundation works with coalitions of partners to advance policies that will create lasting positive changes for the entire community.  We work locally, regionally and statewide on changes that promise the greatest impact on physical and mental health.

Current Priorities

Our current advocacy priorities are directly related to our strategic plan and include policies to:

  • Make Howard County more bikeable and walkable and encourage routine physical activity through:
    • Funding and building the Bikeway, a proposed network of bicycle routes from Howard County’s Bicycle Master Plan that will help everyone bike more easily and safely to places they need to go.
    • Passing and funding a robust new county Pedestrian Master Plan.
    • Passing a strong complete streets policy and design manual to ensure the county’s future approach to road design accommodates all kinds of travel.
  • Improve the quality of school food by advocating for school district improvements in breakfast and lunch.
  • Reduce sugary drink consumption, a key contributor to diabetes, heart disease and cavities, by fully implementing CB 17, a bill passed in 2015 to improve access to healthy vending on county property.
  • Improve family mental health and wellness through advocating for expanded access to preventive and school-based behavioral health services.
  • Encourage the completion and use of advance directives, which help people ensure they receive the care they want in an emergency or critical care situation.
  • Stabilize Medicaid and the health care market, so that individuals do not lose their health care coverage.

Policy Successes

In recent years, the Horizon Foundation has successfully advocated for the passage of several policies:

  • 2019: In the FY 2020 budget proposed by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and passed by the County Council, $2.2 million was dedicated to bike routes – an amount nearly four times higher than just a few years ago.
  • 2017: The Howard County Public School System created and expanded the Let’s Rethink Lunch program to serve all 26,000 students in Howard County’s elementary schools with 10 new quality entrees and fresh fruit and salad bars in the lunch line.
  • 2017: The state legislature enacted a bill to improve Maryland health care providers’ ability to access and use patients’ advance directives in electronic form.
  • 2016: Howard County approved its first Bicycle Master Plan with amendments that required the county to create a complete streets policy and design manual.
  • 2015: Howard County passed legislation to expand healthy snack and drink options in county vending machines.
  • 2014: The Howard County Public School System established a new, world-class wellness policy.
  • 2013: Maryland passed legislation for licensed child care facilities to serve better beverages (including water and milk), to reduce screen time and to promote breastfeeding.