January 7th kicked off the first day of Vermont's legislative session. Our work to pass legislation fighting heart disease and stroke kicks into full gear.
AHA legislative reception – A reminder that our legislative reception will be held February 5th from 4:30-5:30pm at the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. Wine an appetizers will be served and we will focus on two of our advocacy issues: shared use legislation that allows schools greater liability protection to open their facilities to the public for recreational activity during non-school hours and funding for the tobacco trust fund and tobacco program. Please come and talk with your legislators and support our priorities. RSVP to [email protected] if you haven’t or know other volunteers who would like to attend.
- Session begins with some good news on SSB tax– Governor Shumlin addressed both health committees this morning for the first time regarding health care reform efforts. The Governor promoted his Single Payer Health Care proposal. During the questioning by committee members, Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas noted that the Governor was opposed to a sugar sweetened beverage tax as a health care financing measure last session. But the Governor responded that “everything is fair game and everything is on the table.” So, let’s keep pushing. Photo of Governor commenting is attached.
- Tobacco $ should go to tobacco trust fund -- With under $2 million left in its balance (which is expected to be used up this year), the tobacco trust fund needs to be restored for the long-term health of Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program and we’ll be pushing lawmakers to do just that. It was announced this week that Vermont will be receiving $8.3 million in civil penalties from RJ Reynolds for false claims about its Eclipse cigarette. We will be urging the legislature and Administration to place at least a portion of these funds into the tobacco trust fund.
- Welcome two new AHA advocacy committee members – Doctors Patrick Hohl and John Hughes! Patrick Hohl DO, MPH, is Chief Medical Resident at the University of Vermont / Fletcher Allen Health Care. John Hughes is a longtime anti-tobacco advocate, physician and researcher at UVM who has previously chaired Vermont’s Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board.