It has been a busy start to the legislative session. Lawmakers hit the ground running and haven’t slowed down. Here is the latest news on our top priorities:
Pulse Oximetry: HB 105/SB 98 Require Pulse Oximetry Newborn Screening was introduced on Valentine’s Day. HB 105 passed the NC House of Representatives on Monday March 4th. Unfortunately during the floor deliberations there was an amendment added that weakened the bill. Since that time we have been working closely with both our House and Senate legislative champions to make the legislation stronger. We expect that the legislation will start moving on the Senate side very soon. Please stay tuned to your email for updates and action alerts so that you can help us keep this legislation passed this year!
Primary Stroke Center Designation: We have been working very closely with Senator Pate (R-Wayne) and Representative Jim Fulghum (R-Wake) to prepare legislation to be introduced. I anticipate that we will see this legislation introduced in the NC Senate sometime the week of March 25th. Stay tuned for more details.
Tobacco Control Program Funding: You probably saw on the news that the Governor introduced his budget this week. Yesterday the Governor’s staff presented a budget overview to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The Governor’s budget allots $1,000,000 in recurring state dollars for tobacco control budget. We are pleased to see recurring state dollars for tobacco control programs but concerned at the exceptionally low dollar amount. Following the elimination of the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, the tobacco prevention and cessation programs have been whittled away from $17.3 million in 2011, to $2.7 million in funding last year, to a proposed $1 million in funding for the coming fiscal year. This amounts to a funding cut of 94% over the last two years. For comparison purposes, in the current fiscal year, the state budgeted $1,898,000 million on QuitlineNC alone. With the possibility of a $1 million appropriation for both youth tobacco-use prevention programs and cessation programs, advocates fear the chances for seeing funds allocated to the youth prevention programs could be remote. At a minimum, we will continue to see a serious reduction in the reach and resources of the youth prevention programs. Send a message to your lawmakers now about these important programs.
As members of You’re the Cure, now more than ever we need your actions to help us move these efforts and build a healthier North Carolina. Please remember to take action when you get those alerts in your inbox. Your actions make a difference and your lawmakers need to hear from you!
With the latest on Jones Street,
NC Director of Government Relations