Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Legislative Session Ends: Look at the Difference You've Made!

You Did It!

Thanks to thousands of emails, hundreds of personal contacts with legislators, and our successful annual "Heart on the Hill" Day in which nearly 200 of you met personally with your legislators at the Capitol, we made significant progress on preventing heart disease and stroke this legislative session in Minnesota. You can be proud that your voice made a difference!

Statewide Health Improvement Program preserved despite threatened cuts! While our state faces a historic $4.6 billion deficit for the coming biennium, the Legislature maintained its monumental $47 million investment in healthcare reform by fully funding an investment in local obesity prevention and tobacco control programs. These new resources could save 5% in healthcare costs by 2015 and is the cornerstone of the 2008 healthcare reform that you helped achieve.

Women's Heart Health Act advanced! Significant groundwork was laid to establish a state program to promote heart disease screening for women across Minnesota. While ultimately the funding we requested for the program was not provided, we were able to advance our bill significantly this session! Thanks to the wonderful testimony of our experts and survivors who successfully made the case for the Women's Heart Health Program, the House passed funding for the program. We laid the groundwork for future passage by putting a spotlight on the issue with media coverage at the Wear Red Day Rally at the Capitol.

Physical education was tagged out at home plate in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sometimes a great policy supported by the most compelling facts does not make it through the legislative process. That is the case with the physical education legislation put forth again this year by the American Heart Association. Thanks to your urging, the Senate passed our bill. But despite our best efforts, the House conferees would not pass the Senate's language on physical education.

Clean Air was protected and momentum builds to increase the price of tobacco! Thanks to your groundswell of support, legislators heard your call to keep our smoke free law strong despite two amendments that threatened to weaken it. Legislators also heard your push to increase the tobacco tax. The American Heart Association in partnership with American Cancer Society led the charge (Act for a Healthy Future) to propose a $1 increase which would save 19,300 lives and prevent 44,000 kids from ever picking up the habit. Though the House passed a 54 cent increase this policy did not pass the Legislature, but the growing momentum increases the chance of passing this law next year.

American Heart Association's CPR standards will be the model for Minnesota schools! The Minnesota Legislature passed and Gov. Pawlenty signed a bill into law that requires school districts providing CPR/AED training to follow American Heart Association standards, or nationally recognized evidence-based instruction including psychomotor skills. Minnesota law does not require that CPR/AED instruction be provided in schools so this is a first step towards that goal. This legislation provided the opportunity to raise the visibility and highlight the importance of teaching CPR and AED use in our schools. .

Next Steps

Your legislators have returned home and will be holding town hall forums and legislative update meetings in your district. Show up and thank those who supported our efforts. Ask legislators to prioritize these policies when the Legislature reconvenes Feb. 4, 2010!

More Information:
-View a more detailed version of the 2009 Minnesota Legislative Wrap-up.

Thank you for joining in the fight to prevent heart disease and stroke in Minnesota! We will be calling on you over the summer and fall to keep these lifesaving policies in policymakers' priorities as they prepare for the 2010 session.

Rachel Callanan
Senior Advocacy Director--Minnesota

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