Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Arkansas Moving Toward 2009 Session

The 2009 Legislative session will be a busy one for the American Heart Association, with three major issues on the agenda. The first is the creation of a statewide trauma system. Such a system would allow Arkansas to properly treat strokes and other traumatic brain injuries. Currently, Arkansas does not have a statewide trauma system or a level one trauma center. Last session legislators could not come to an agreement on the funding for the system therefore no legislation was approved. However, several funding streams are currently being discussed in preparation for legislation in 2009.

Contact your legislators and let them know how important this issue is for Arkansas.

Next on our agenda is funding for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for all schools in Arkansas. Representatives Janet Johnson and Sandra Prater have taken the lead on this issue, and are reviewing information to determine how best to move forward with funding for schools across Arkansas.

Encourage your representative to work to fund AEDs in all schools in AR.

Finally, Arkansas' tobacco tax is well below the national average — just 59 cents compared to a national average of $1.18 according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Not only is price a big deterrent to youth smoking (for every 10 cents you increase the tax you can see a 7 to 10 percent decrease in consumption), Arkansas is leaving dollars on the table that could be used to provide much needed health disparities programs that reach into communities all across Arkansas.

We will keep you updated as this issue advances in preparation for the 2009 legislative session.