As I sit in the State House library and write this blog post, it is sunny and 70-degrees outside. Finally. We have waited a long time for Spring to make an appearance.
It seems like all it has done over the past month is rain and rain and rain. I am so glad to see the sun. Last night, at my daughter’s baseball game it was 50 and raining. By the end of the game, however, it was a few degrees warmer and the sun was working hard to get rid of those clouds.
That is how I am feeling about the legislature right now. The sun is starting to shine a bit. Today, we were able to finally put an end to the cigar bar nonsense for this session. Yes, thanks to your emails and calls, the legislature voted to “kill” the cigar bar bill. The vote was 25-7 in the Senate. There was not even a roll call vote in the House. I guess the proponents felt it was not a battle worth fighting.
There will be other battles as the marijuana lobby tries to roll back our protections from secondhand smoke by opening marijuana smoking lounges on Main Streets across the state, but we will fight those as well. Smoking marijuana is NOT good for your heart, brain or lungs and we especially don’t want public indoor smoky marijuana coffee shops and lounges. The legislature was forceful in their rejection of cigar lounges and we hope they will be just as forceful about marijuana. There is also a bill in the queue for next year to allow smoking of all types (not just cigars or pot) in certain lounges around the state as well. Oh well. That is battle for next year. We, at the American Heart Association, need to maintain our focus on the end of this session.
There are a few bills we are still working on this session. The most important of which is the budget. Budget deliberations on the health and human services portion of the budget have just begun. This weekend, we received an email from the budget committee (the Appropriations and Financial Services Committee) that the committee could meet “Any day after 3:00 PM” this week to discuss parts of the budget.
That is why I am in the library at the state house on this very beautiful day. We are very concerned about the Governor’s proposed virtual elimination (over 90%) of the state’s tobacco and physical activity and nutrition programs. Please look for an email from me soon and contact your legislators about these debilitating cuts. Now, go outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!