It has been a busy legislative session and intensity is building with each passing day. Last week we held our breath tight while we fought to keep our smoke-free law strong and we let out a sigh of relief when SB 703 didn’t make the crossover deadline. That said we have to remain vigilant that nothing else comes up that could weaken our smoke-free law.
Last night the Senate released their budget. Included was $1.4 Million in recurring funds for QuitlineNC, however there doesn’t appear to be any money for teen tobacco control prevention programs. We are continuing to review the budget documents carefully for other AHA priority items. You can access the Senate budget proposals at these links: budget bill and associated money report.
Legislative Priority Review:
Pulse Oximetry: On May 8th, Governor McCrory signed SB 98: Require Pulse Oximetry Newborn Screening into law. Now in our state, all newborns will have a critical congenital heart defect screening prior to being sent home from the hospital or birthing center. The legislation passed unanimously and a big thank you goes out to our You're the Cure NC advocates who sent numerous emails and make phone calls to support this issue. Our bill sponsors were: Senators Andrew Brock (R-Davie), Louis Pate (R-Wayne), Josh Stein (D-Wake) and Representatives Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), Mark Hollo (R-Alexander), Paul Stam (R-Wake) and Craig Horn (R-Union).
Primary Stroke Center Designation: On May 8th, Governor McCrory signed SB 456: Designate Primary Stroke Centers into law. This legislation ensures that primary stroke centers in NC are those facilities that have national primary stroke center accreditation (Joint Commission or equivalent) and that this information will be made known to the public and EMS statewide. The AHA considers primary stroke centers as the cornerstone of the state's stroke systems of care. Our bill sponsors were: Senators Louis Pate (R-Wayne), Trudy Wade (R- Guilford), and Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) and on the House Side: Representatives Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), Mark Hollo (R-Alexander), Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), and Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth).
Tobacco Control Program Funding: In the Governor's budget $1 Million of recurring funding was included, but this is a 94% cut in this funding from where we were in 2011 when the state provided $17.3 Million for these important programs. It is important to note that each year NC receives Master Settlement Agreement funds that can and should be used for these programs.
Smoke-free NC: Just this week, health advocates across the state banded together to stop SB 703 introduced by Senator Buck Newton (R-Nash). This legislation would have limited the regulation of outdoor smoke-free policies in the state, including on our community college campuses. The legislation would have repealed numerous local ordinances that have passed including the smoke-free ordinance at Wrightsville Beach which was on the November ballot there approved by the citizen voters of the beach community. It would have also reversed over 50 community college smoke-free/tobacco-free ordinances.
Funding Stroke Advisory Council and Stroke Community Education: In partnership with the Justus Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force, we are advocating for $50,000/annual funding for the Stroke Advisory Council and $400,000 for stroke community education. These sometimes appear in the special provisions of the budget, so we will be watching closely.
Please stay tuned to this blog and your email for more information!