The American Heart Association’s fiscal year ends at about the same time as the end of the legislative session. That makes June a very busy month. I have been at the state house every day (and some nights) during the past month working to try to override Governor’s vetoes and trying to stop bad bills from passing. I am happy to report that we had a fairly good year. First the good news:
We overrode a Governor’s veto on a bill that requires all high schools to teach Hands-Only CPR. An amazing effort led by some phenomenal AHA volunteers. We hit a home-run.
Second, we managed to protect our state’s investment in tobacco prevention and public health. The legislature (just hours ago) voted to override the Governor’s veto of the budget. The Governor had proposed cutting $10 million a year from the Fund for a Healthy Maine. After a lot of work, we were able to convince the legislature that creating a new generation of smokers was a terrible idea.
Third, we "killed" a bill that would have allowed cigar bars back in Maine. This was an intense lobbying effort by us, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association. Legislators mentioned receiving your calls and emails. Thank you for your efforts. We needed to play hardball and you were there to back us up.
Unfortunately, it was not all good news. The legislature failed to override the Governor’s veto on a fantastic school marketing bill. In their rush to finish their work, the House voted only two hours after they received the veto letter. This did not give us time to lobby or to activate our volunteers. This bill had unanimous support from the Education Committee as well as the legislature during enactment. Because of their impatience, the junk food industry will still be allowed in your kid’s schools with their giveaways and posters. The more entrenched they get the harder it will be for us to fight, but we will keep trying. We also failed to override a veto of a bill that would have helped smokers afford health insurance and failed to pass a bill that would have allowed low-income working Mainer's to get the health care they need. Three strikes.
Now, I plan to spend a long holiday weekend playing baseball with my daughter and eating strawberries.