Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Governor Beebe signs Act 1204, and the 2009 Heart Ball

What an exciting month February has been in the state of Arkansas. Looking over my blog entries I cannot believe it has been 12 months since I wrote a glowing report about the activities in which I took part in February of 2008. So much has happened in my personal life and in my volunteer work! This February has seen the passage of Act 1204, and at left you see a picture of our states Governor signing the act into law. Act 1204 increases the excise tax on tobacco by 56 cents, funneling nearly 90 million dollars into the Arkansas budget. Those funds will be used to fund life saving programs across the state and will enable us to improve and increase the availability of health care for the citizens of Arkansas. I commend our Governor for his hard work and dedication to this cause, I thank speaker Robbie Wills of Conway for his impassioned support of this Act, and Senator Steele for this unwavering belief that this Act was necessary for the health and well being of the children of our state! We on the Advocacy Committee in Arkansas feel that the 2009 legislative session has been an incredible success already.
We also celebrated the 2009 Heart Ball this week. Kevin and I are honored to serve on the auction board, and want to commend our friends Scott and Shayla Copas on a job well-done as the 2009 Heart Ball chairs. Scott serves on the board for the South Central affiliate, and he and his lovely wife are valued and honored volunteers with the AHA. Under their leadership the 2009 Heart Ball raised more than 1 million dollars for research, education and awareness.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


This just in: I just came from the Senate floor where the tobacco tax PASSED the Senate!!!!  Act 1204 now goes before Governor Mike Beebe, who will sign it, and will create funding for AED's in schools, CPR training, and a state-wide trauma system!!!!  Years worth of work on the part of the the Arkansas Advocacy Committee, the Step Up Coalition and volunteers across the state has come to fruition!  Thank you  Barbie Kumpe for all your hard work!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February-off with a Bang!!

What an amazing week the first week of February has been. I started the week in committee meetings with the House Rules committee of the state of Arkansas. We with the AHA and the Step up Coalition have been working tirelessly with Governor Beebe to get Act 1204 passed this session. Act 1204 will increase the state tobacco excise tax by 56 cents, and will fund life saving programs life the placement of AED’s in schools, CPR training for all school staff, a statewide trauma system, and dozens of other life healing or life saving programs. I was so honored to be in the House Rules committee meeting when they passed the Act unanimously. Act 1204 went to the House Thursday, and was passed. We now go before the Senate, where the battle will certainly be more difficult. Republican Senators have signed a “pledge” promising they will not vote for any new taxes this session. Unfortunately, they do not understand the harm that they will wreak if they do not vote for this act, nor do they understand the support they will lose. They seem unwilling to realize that this is not a general tax, but rather is a luxury tax or at the very least an elective tax. We have a difficult road ahead of us, but it is a short one. The Act will go before the Senate this week. We are hopefully optimistic.
Later that afternoon I was thrilled to be present in the Senate as they read the 2009 Go Red resolution. It’s always a joy to get to be involved in events where my personal life’s passion garners attention by our state and national lawmakers. From there it was on to the 2009 Go Red reception in the Capitol rotunda. First lady of our state, Ginger Beebe, was in attendance, as were a number of our state-lawmakers.
On Thursday I flew out to New York City, to host the second Go Red for Women national casting call. I was so honored to have the opportunity to tell my personal story of survival, as well as introducing such important personages as David Josseran, chairman of the AHA, and the CEO’s of Merck and Macy’s. I also introduced actress Andie McDowell, who shared her own story of loss due to heart disease. Andie lost her mother at the young age of 53. It was amazing to get to spend time with Monica Flores, and the rest of the national Go Red staff. Afterward Kevin and I were treated to lunch, where we were honored to get to spend time visiting with the New York AHA staff. The event was well attended by both the public and by the press. I was even featured in three editorial press photos on Getty Images, not something I ever expected to be part of! The event occurred in Grand Central Station, in the gorgeous Vanderbilt Hall. What an amazing opportunity to be part of such a historic event in such a historic location!
Looking forward to many many more amazing events in this and the coming months!
Stay tuned for photos-dozens to upload!