When we return from the holidays, Tennessee will be days away from the 2018 legislative session. The legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 9 and likely adjourn in mid-April.
During session, the American Heart Association will urge the legislature to:
- Permit local governments to create smoke-free environments. Studies have linked smoke-free laws to improved public health and reduced hospital admissions for heart attacks. Yet, state law prevents local governments from passing ordinances to make their communities smoke-free. We're urging legislators to remove this barrier, so local governments can choose if and how to act on tobacco use policies. No longer would communities have to lobby the state legislature just to remove tobacco from public places. Whether it’s a temporary ban on tobacco use during special events, or creating smoke-free neighborhoods, your community would be allowed to have those conversations and decide what is best for their situation.
- Ensure elementary students receive Physical Education (PE). Right now, elementary students in grades K- 5 are not required to receive a specific amount of PE each week. It’s imperative that PE is re-established as part of the school day. This is the only way we’ll know that our kids are getting the education and active time that will help them develop healthy habits for life. As such, for the second year in a row, the AHA will urge the legislature to support the Tom Cronan Physical Education Act. The legislation requires each elementary student participates in a PE class at least twice a week for a combined total of at least 60 minutes; the classes would be taught by teachers with a PE endorsement and meet the needs of students. Also, local education agencies (LEAs) would verify compliance with the act annually.
- Help stroke patients receive immediate, proper care. Across the country, a significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time proper treatment. That's why, here in Tennessee, we are working on legislation with the Tennessee Department of Health and Stroke Task Force on stroke facility designation statuses and EMS transport protocols. Our goal is to help stroke patients receive the right care at the right time and improve their chance of survival.
- Improve the quality of care for STEMI heart attack patients. STEMI heart attacks are more commonly known as widow makers - the deadliest type of heart attack! As such, every minute counts in getting life-saving treatment to these patients. That's why we're urging the legislature to recognize facilities that are able to receive and treat patients experiencing a STEMI emergency, as well as require the Department of Health to establish treatment protocols to ensure STEMI patients get to the best hospital for treatment.
We will need your help to garner legislators' support.
From now until mid-April, you can expect to receive the latest advocacy updates via You're the Cure email alerts. These emails will inform you of our progress at the State Capitol and often ask you to click a link to email, call, Facebook or tweet legislators (our system makes all of that very easy for you!). We ask that you take action on those alerts, and even invite you to forward alerts to your volunteer groups or individual volunteers.
On behalf of our advocacy team, happy holidays!