We are excited that with the end of our fiscal year that we have a lot of advocacy wins to celebrate. This was a true team effort that could not be achieved without your support of our work, taking action on alerts, being part of lobby day, and you, our dedicated volunteers being tireless advocates throughout the year.
We were successful in leading a campaign to secure a $500,000 appropriation for Stroke Education and awareness; including a specific earmark of $200,000 to support the state Stroke registry. The $200,000 earmark met the Goal Guidance criteria for Stroke Registry funding. Not only were we successful in having the appropriation included in the legislature’s budget but we also successfully led a veto override campaign. This happened in July 2015. Just yesterday we were able to secure an additional $620,00 for stroke funding in the final budget that is on its way to the Governor’s desk so we are excited that the momentum of the original funding continues!
In the early winter Boston joined almost 90 cities and towns across Massachusetts to set the minimum age at 21 and with Boston joining the movement more than ½ of the population live in cities and towns where 21 is the minimum age. In May we were able to add to the local 21 push when the cities and Towns of Brockton, Carver, Chelsea, Essex , Falmouth, Gloucester, Hadley, Halifax, Marblehead, Norfolk, North Adams, North Attleboro, Plainville, Shelburne, Southampton, Sunderland and Tewksbury cumulatively representing 324,199 residents were confirmed to have passed T-21 policy. In June the Cities/Towns of Great Barrington, Lowell, Stoughton and Worcester passed T-21 legislation adding an additional 317,365 Massachusetts residents living in communities that now have a minimum legal age of 21 to purchase Tobacco products. These additions mean that 121 of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth have T-21 laws. We are confident that this momentum will help us pass the Statewide Tobacco 21 bill by July 31st!
For a number of years we have been working on Complete Streets to secure necessary funding and policy language so that we can create healthier communities for all of our residents. I am excited to say that the Massachusetts state Transportation Improvement plan will be dedicating a total of $110 million dollars over the next 5 years to programs and projects to improve access to safe bicycle and pedestrian programs that will help people who walk, bike, run and roll do so more safely. This campaign involved not only working to appropriate the funds but also to influence the Capital Improvement Plan to ensure that all modes of transportation are considered in road improvement design.
- Lastly we were able to secure a win for our local CPR in Schools efforts. Unlike most other states, nearly all curriculum decisions are decided at the local level which means that we have to work with local school Superintendents and School Committees to implement CPR Graduation requirements in school districts across the State. This particular win reflects the passage of policies in the Worcester, Springfield and the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional school districts. These three school districts represent an additional 3,169 High School Graduating Seniors who will learn the fundamentals of CPR before they graduate. In all, we have worked with 2 additional districts that require some form of CPR training before students graduate with an overall total of 5,317 students trained each year. We have also identified an additional 26 school districts with over 12,000 annual graduates to focus on in FY 16-17. This is a particularly satisfying win because it took a true team effort to get this down, and without our volunteer’s dedication and outreach we would not be making the progress that we are!
Lastly as some of you know our legislative session is not over yet, we have until July 31st at midnight to get a few more policies passed. We are working towards:
- Statewide Tobacco 21
- Healthy Vending in State Buildings
- $6 million for Healthy Food Financing
- A Comprehensive Stroke System of Care
- Quality Physical Education
- AEDs in all Public Schools