The 2016 RI Legislative Session wrapped up on June 18th. Lawmakers passed hundreds of bills in the frenzied final days of session. Thanks to the passion and commitment of You’re the Cure advocates, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association in Rhode Island are celebrating a very successful year at the State House!
Advocates pose for a photo at the Rhode Island State House on Lobby Day on May 12, 2016.
Pictured from rear left, David Day, Laurie Stephenson, Bill Thompson, Kelly Swanson, Karin Wetherill, Lisa Deck, John Potvin, Dina Mihos, Nancy Blasdell, Andrea Larocque, Megan Tucker, Michelle Karn, Amanda Komorek, Christa Danilowicz, Miriam Plitt and Kathy Harrington.
Below are some highlights from the session:
- School Nutrition Bill Approved – Our bill that would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards to ensure that we meet – and continue to exceed – new federal guidelines for snacks and beverages sold in schools was approved by the House and Senate and is heading to Governor Raimondo’s desk.
- Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum Approved – The Governor’s proposed Green Economy/Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum was included in the budget approved by the House and Senate. The bond referendum will now go on the November Ballot. If approved by voters, it will provide millions of dollars for bikeway development, recreation and parks.
- 25-Cent Cigarette Tax Increase Defeated – The Governor’s proposed 25-cent cigarette tax increase was NOT included in the final budget. The AHA and our partners strongly opposed the 25-cent increase because it was too small to have a public health impact and no money was dedicated to prevention and cessation programs (which remain woefully underfunded).
- AEDs in Schools Bill Approved – The House and Senate approved a bill that will require AEDs in all public and private middle and high schools in the state. AEDs will also be required at school-sponsored athletic events and someone trained in the use of the AED must also be present. This bill was championed by one of our amazing volunteers who has a son with a congenital heart defect – it truly highlights how a passionate advocate can inspire change! The AHA was happy to support this important bill and provide strategic guidance along the way. This bill was signed into law by Governor Raimondo on July 6th.
- CPR in Schools Funding Progress – We are still working to secure funding to purchase new CPR equipment for all high schools in the state to help implement the CPR in Schools Law. We have made progress over the past couple of months and are working with Governor Raimondo’s staff to identify potential funding sources.
- Healthy School Advertising Bill Stalled – Our bill that would ensure only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property stalled in the final days of session. The measure had passed the Senate, but didn’t make it through the House. We worked really hard on this proposal and this is by far the biggest disappointment of the session. We will plan to meet with the House Leadership prior to the 2017 session to identify and address concerns.
To learn more about work to make Rhode Island a healthier place to work, learn, and play, visit www.yourethecure.org or contact Megan Tucker at Megan.Tucker@heart.org. Connect with us on social media with #GetHealthyRI and #HealthyKidsRI.