Week 7 of session was a whirlwind!
- February 26th: The Georgia Senate and House of Representatives will reconvene.
- February 28th: Crossover day. This is the day that all bills from the House or Senate need to make it over to the other chamber if they are to become law.
You can keep track of each day of the legislative session by visiting http://www.gpb.org/lawmakers. While there you can view live streams from both chambers of the General Assembly and watch the capital update.
The AHA is continuing to advocate for the passage of legislation requiring all 911 telecommunicators that provide dispatch for emergency conditions be trained in the delivery of high quality telephone CPR.
Status: Our T-CPR bill, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea, is waiting to be introduced after which it will be assigned to the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. Additionally, we have been speaking with the 911 dispatcher’s organizations, Georgia Medical Association, and American College of Cardiology regarding their support for this policy.
HB 926 Quality Physical Education:
The AHA is also advocating for the passage of physical education assessment legislation. The goal of this policy is to increase accountability reporting of schools to provide quality physical education based on specific assessment measures.
Status: On Wednesday, 2/21/18 HB 926 was heard in the Education Subcommittee for Academic Support. The bill was well received by the members of the committee and there was no opposition from stakeholders or lawmakers. However, the Chairman of the full House Education Committee recommended that no action be taken on the bill this session and that instead a study committee be called for to further examine and bolster the effort for next year. The study committee will consist of the American Heart Association, PE professionals, and our bill sponsor.
HB 835 Related to tobacco sales:
This past week we became aware of a bill that was introduced by Representative Jodi Lott related to the sale of tobacco products across the state. This bill would allow tobacco dealers to apply for a special permit that would enable them to sell their wares at festivals and “temporary locations” across the state. This permit would cost $10, last a minimum of 1 and maximum of 10 days, and could be applied for an unlimited amount of times a year. We consider the policy this bill proposes to be dangerous to the pubic health of our state and will be opposing its passage.
Status: We are continuing to collaborate with our partners at ACSCAN, ALA, and VFTFK to disseminate information to legislators with the hope of stalling the bill. HB 835 passing through its first committee, Regulated Industries, and then the House on 2/22 with a vote of 144 to 24 with 6 excused and 6 not voting.
HB 877 Related to tobacco taxes:
The day after HB 835 was introduced by Representative Lott another harmful pro-tobacco bill was introduced, this time by Representative Chad Nimmer. This bill would decrease the taxes on tobacco products in Georgia that made their way into the FDA’s modified risk category by up to 50%. It should be noted that there currently does not exist any products in this category, but they could hypothetically include snus and e-cigarette/vape products. As with HB 835 we believe HB 877 to be harmful to the public health of Georgia and will be opposing its passage.
Status: A hearing on HB 877 was held in Chairman Ron Stephens Public Finance and Policy subcommittee of Ways and Means on Wednesday afternoon and it was voted through favorably to the larger committee. On Thursday, the bill passed through the full Ways & Means Committee Chaired by Representative Jay Powell. Currently, the bill is waiting to be heard on the House floor but has not made any progress. We will continue to disseminate information to legislators and meet with them to explain the dangers of passing this legislation.
HB 948 & SB 418 Related to preemption:
This past week we were made aware of both HB 948 and SB 418. These bills seek to revoke the authority of local governments to ban, prohibit, or restrict the sale of goods, products, or items regulated by the USDA and FDA. The consequences of these policy are wide reaching and will have negative impacts on our current and potential priorities regarding smoke-free air and sweet and sugary beverage laws to name a few. For this reason, and the considerable negative public health impact the passage of these bills will foretell we will be opposing both as the session moves forward.
Status: Both bills have made their way through their respective committees and are waiting to be put on the agenda in the Senate and House. We are currently working with ACSCAN, ALA, DPH, and the municipal association to defeat these harmful policies.
We will continue to provide updates as they are given to me. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you would like to get engaged.
The American Heart Association and Smoke-free Atlanta coalition are continuing to work together for the passage of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in the city of Atlanta.
Status: The coalition is currently working towards obtaining further support from the local community for our policy. This is being done by holding numerous community educational events which can be found in the Key Dates section of this update. Additionally, we will be moving forward with the lobby portion of the campaign once the legislative session comes to a close in late March.
As an official member of the Breath Easy Cobb County Coalition the American Heart Association will be assisting in the launch of a public outreach and education campaign in the coming weeks and months. This will aid in achieving the coalitions goal of advancing smoke-free policies in the City of Marietta.
Status: This campaign is still in its planning stages and we do not expect to have an ordinance introduced until the summer at the earliest. Currently we are developing a community outreach plan as well as power mapping the members of the city council.
If you live in Atlanta or Marietta and would like to be engaged, please email michael.Cortes@heart.org.
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