An old friend from high school who lives in NYC posted this photo to his Facebook feed. It immediately brought to mind Maine’s current legislative session.
hero_image_alt_text===Lies, Cigars, Magazines and Pocketbooks sign
He graciously allowed me to use this photo in my blog (thanks, Jon Crider).
Although there are currently 1,039 bills under discussion in Augusta (and more on the way), the one that drives most of the decisions and discussion is LD 390—the biennial state budget. The budget was proposed by the Governor in January, there were public hearings throughout February and now the legislative work really begins. The American Heart Association commented on the health and human services portion of the budget. We are very concerned about the 94% cut (yes, that is 94%) to the state’s tobacco control and prevention program. Tobacco is still the #1 killer in Maine. We are also concerned about the 100% cut to the Maine CDC’s obesity program (yes, 100%). Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death. The Governor, and Commissioner Mayhew claim that the money “saved” by cutting these life-saving, disease-preventing programs will be used to target tobacco cessation efforts towards our MaineCare population. Sounds good—except they also propose cutting the MaineCare budget by the same amount. That is not a new program or additional money—that is a shell game.
One of last month’s blogs discussed a bill sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) that would drive a tobacco delivery truck through our smoke free workplaces and public places law. LD34 allows cigar shops to become cigar lounges, or restaurants. This bill is still under discussion in the HHS Committee. You can bet that you will hear from me once it reached the full legislature. This bill is a giant step backwards.
One of my personal favorite bills this session (LD850) prohibits lobbyists and the public from lying to a legislative committee. Of course, this got a big chuckle out of those of us who work for truthful, evidence-based organizations. What would the tobacco industry be able to say? How about some of the claims made by other industries (beverage, insurance, pharma, etc.)? LD850 won’t change our practices, but it could change others. It probably won’t pass, but thinking about the ramifications is a fun exercise.
Speaking of exercise. Most, if not all the respected healthcare and education journals, who have published studies, state that our children are not getting enough active play or physical education. The American Heart Association is working on a few bills to increase the time spent in active play and to assure Maine kids have access to quality PE. Stay tuned.
Well, thanks again to Jon for providing the inspiration for this blog. Let’s just hope that the “agazines” win the day and keep the cigars and lies at bay.