Lawmakers have been busy with the state budget and tax reform during the past few weeks. This week the House of Representatives passed their version of the state budget. We were disappointed that the House did not include any funding for tobacco use prevention programs, mirroring the Governor’s and Senate’s budget proposals. The House did include $1 Million recurring funds for the NC Quitline, consistent with what the Governor had included. Our work will now be to advocate with conferees to adopt the Senate’s budget proposal for $1.4 Million for the NC Quitline.
In other budget matters, unfortunately no funding was included for the operations of the Stroke Advisory Council or stroke community education.
On the brighter side, this week the Senate voted unanimously to concur with the House changes to SB 530: Prohibit E-cigarette Sales to Minors. Thanks to the strong legislative efforts of Representatives Fulghum, Stam, and Glazier we were able to successfully amend the bill to define tobacco-derived products, vapor products, and components of vapor products as tobacco products. This change is critically important to maintaining consistency in North Carolina’s tobacco control laws, including our tobacco-free schools. We will now be watching for Governor McCrory to sign this legislation into law.
As we look to the next few weeks, lawmakers will be completing their work on the state budget and tax reform. This week, HB 998 Tax Simplification and Reduction Act (http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H998v4.pdf) worked its’ way through the Senate and today passed second reading. It is calendared for third reading on June 18th. Amendments continue to be made and once the bill passes the Senate, it will have to go back to the House for concurrence.
We are just two weeks away from June 30 and lawmakers are pushing trying to finish their work. In the days ahead we will see them finish the state budget and tax reform. It’s been a very busy legislative session and our successes are thanks to efforts of the You’re the Cure NC team. Thank you for your dedication to helping moving the AHA mission through strong public health policies.
There have been lots of great moments – from seeing Greg Olsen address the House Health Committee to witnessing Governor McCrory give Grace Sanchez a big hug at the pulse oximetry bill signing. What was your favorite moment?
Write us and we will include your moments in our next blog post!
With heart from Raleigh,
Betsy Vetter, NC Director of Government Relations