Thank you to the volunteers and staff who joined us for our last You're the Cure Southeast chat for fiscal year 2020-2021. Despite the setbacks the year presented, we are grateful for everyone who chose to advocate with us, as we strive to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives through public policy change.
Together, we have been able to achieve the following public policy successes and milestones in the Southeast.
Defeated five preemption bills at the State House that would limit the authority of local public health authorities during a public health crisis
Built momentum for statewide water access in schools legislation, Senate Bill 368, that would require water bottle filling stations to be installed in all newly constructed public schools and public schools undergoing major renovations
Passed CPR training in schools legislation, House Bill 157, to ensure all students in the ninth and eleventh grades learn CPR, effective July 1
Built momentum for statewide Telecommunicator CPR legislation, Senate Bill 766 and House Bill 397, that would ensure 911 dispatchers receive training certification to help callers identify someone in cardiac arrest and provide CPR instructions over the phone until emergency medical services arrive
Secured local bike and pedestrian funding in Augusta
Passed local smoke-free ordinances in the cities of South Fulton and Doraville to make all workplaces smoke-free
Passed statewide Water Access in Schools legislation, House Bill 132, to require water bottle filling stations to be installed in all newly constructed public schools and public schools undergoing major renovations beginning August 1
Defeated a bad tobacco bill, House Bill 525, pushed by tobacco companies that would remove certain products from the state's tobacco tax
Successfully urged New Orleans' city administration to update their Complete Streets policy to ensure safe and equitable transportation networks in the City of New Orleans
Built the groundwork for the New Orleans City Council to introduce a healthy options at restaurants policy soon that would ensure water, milk, and 100% juice are the default options offered with kids' meals
Passed a local Water Access in Schools policy in Brookhaven to require water bottle filling stations to be installed in newly constructed public schools and public schools undergoing major renovations, laying the groundwork for a statewide policy in the future
Secured a health equity appropriation in the state budget for school food assistance and food banks with federal CARES dollars, which helped support families and children in need during the worst of the COVID-19 economic crisis
Raised awareness about the importance of including tobacco control prevention funding in the state budget, as well as the need to improve access to care for all North Carolinians
Secured a health equity appropriation of $20M to MUSC for at-risk COVID testing initiative
Defeated bills that would prevent cities and counties from passing laws to restrict sales of flavored tobacco products and to prohibit tobacco retail licensure requirements
Secured a health equity appropriation of $2M in the state’s FY21-22 budget to the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) for the state’s Health Safety Net program, so faith-based organizations and federally qualified health centers for safety net services, including primary care, immunizations, and dental services, can provide additional access to care for the uninsured
Supported passage of $2M tobacco cessation/prevention appropriation, which was included and passed in Governor Lee’s FY21-22 budget
Supported passage of $7M appropriation toward maternal health coverage, up to 12 months, for TennCare recipients, which was included and passed in Governor Lee’s FY21-22 budget
Passed a Water Access in Schools policy in the Hamilton County School District
We look forward to continue advocating with you to advance cardiovascular health for every person through public policy change. As a reminder, we'll kick off next fiscal year's monthly You're the Cure Southeast chats on August 23 at our usual time, 11:30AM ET / 10:30AM CT. We invite you to join us. Click here to save your spot!
Julie M. Howell and Kim Chidester VanVeen are Grassroots Managers for the American Heart Association (AHA). Together, they engage volunteers and staff across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico in the AHA's public policy efforts.