This 2017 legislative session is considered a “long” session, and runs from January through June.
With many new faces in the legislature, the fact that the state faces another serious budget deficit, and that the November elections resulted in a historic tie in the Senate, the session began with much uncertainty. Despite this uncertainty, we are seeing positive momentum on our efforts in Hartford. After numerous hours invested by our advocates talking with their own legislators and testifying at various hearings, the Public Health committee on March 6th successfully voted two of our priority bills out of committee.
The first bill would increase the state’s tobacco purchase age to 21, making it more difficult for our youth to experiment with and become addicted to tobacco products. Currently 56,000 kids in CT under age 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Ninety percent of those who provide cigarettes to younger teens are under the age of 21. With heart disease being the number one cause of death in Connecticut, and smoking being the number one cause of heart disease, this bill will save lives in our state. If this bill ultimately passes, CT would become the third state to do so, behind HI and CA.
The second bill passed out of the committee creates a “stroke system of care” to ensure that when you experience stroke in CT, you have the best chance at a positive outcome. The bill will designate three types of stroke-ready hospitals, and establish transport protocols for EMS professionals. Thanks largely to numerous passionate advocates that came to Hartford to testify in favor of this bill at its hearing, it now stands ready for further action in the Senate.