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Florida's 2019 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Florida's 2019 legislative session came to an end on Saturday, May 4th.

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With the help of You're the Cure advocates, the American Heart Association focused on three priorities throughout session: to raise the legal sale age of tobacco products to 21, to remove self-attestation of stroke centers, and to create a registry for data analysis of STEMI (widow maker heart attacks). And when 35+ bills were filed that wanted to limit local government control, the American Heart Association fought back with the help of You're the Cure advocates. 

After a grueling 60-day session, we're celebrating the following: 

  • Local Government - Of the all bills with preemption provisions (meaning they'd limit local government control), HB 771 is the only one that passed the House and Senate, and it was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
  • Stroke Centers - SB 1460 by Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Scott Plakon will be presented to the governor. The bill would remove self-attestation of stroke centers, ensuring all stroke centers are certified by a third-party. 
  • Public Education on E-Cigarettes - We helped pass language ensuring Tobacco Free Florida's funding could be used to educate Floridians on the dangers of e-cigarettes. The language is only good for one year and will require additional legislative action in 2020 to ensure it's made permanent. 
  • Stroke Registry - Legislation we passed in 2017 created a data registry to analyze stroke data to help improve patient outcomes. This year we helped secure a stroke registry funding increase from $250,000 to $750,000.
  • Amendment 9 - Legislation implementing the “Clean Air, Clean Water” constitutional amendment prohibiting use of electronic nicotine delivery systems wherever smoking is prohibited passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor on Monday. It becomes effective on July 1, 2019.

Unfortunately, a comprehensive bill to raise the legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 did not pass. Controversial issues rarely pass in their first session and we expected incremental progress beyond last year’s workshop (where a bill is heard but not vote is taken) by passing a committee. To have the issue pass one of the chambers was the result of H A R D work and we look forward to additional progress in the future. We are grateful to Sen. David Simmons for his perseverance, as well as our House sponsors, Reps. Nick Duran and Jackie Toledo for their dedication.

Our legislation to create a registry for data analysis of ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarctions (widow maker heart attacks) also did not pass. The legislation failed due to opposition from the American College of Cardiology, Florida Chapter and a Tampa-area hospital. We appreciate the willingness of Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Lawrence McClure to take on the issue for the second year.

A big thank you to all You're the Cure advocates who contacted their legislators throughout session in support of our policy efforts. We will be in touch soon about encouraging Gov. DeSantis to sign the stroke centers bill into law. Together, we're a relentless force for longer, healthier lives in the Sunshine State.

Mark Landreth, Florida Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association, contributed to this post.

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