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An Update from the Capitol: Different approaches to transportation funding in 2015

The Republican House Majority bill (HF 4 – Rep. Kelly, Red Wing) calls for $750 million over the next four years, through redirecting existing dollars, tapping the state’s budget surplus to the tune of $200 million, and through greater "efficiencies" at MnDOT. Their bill is exclusively dedicated to funding roads and bridges with zero money for transit or pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. House GOP leadership have stated that this bill is a starting point.

Taking a decidedly more long-term and comprehensive approach, the DFL Senate Majority’s bill (SF 87 – Sen. Dibble, Minneapolis) calls for a $800 million to $1.1 billion annual investment in a multi-modal transportation system that includes dedicated money for roads, bridges, transit, and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. The money would be generated from a combination of new revenue (wholesale gas tax, ¾ of cent Metro sales tax increase, etc.) and redirecting federal dollars. The DFL Senate bill would provide approximately $50 million per year for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in Minnesota, $16 million of which is dedicated for Greater Minnesota. Safe routes to school projects are specifically named as an eligible use for these new funds.

Governor Dayton’s transportation budget (HF 847) proposes roughly $11 billion over the next 10 years in multi-modal investments using similar funding sources as the DFL Senate bill (wholesale gas tax, ½ cent Metro sales tax increase, etc.). However, Dayton’s proposed investment in walking and biking is just $8 million per year over the next ten years, far below the $50 million per year walking and biking advocates have called for to meet the needs across Minnesota. Of the $7.5 million per year to support walking and bicycling, Dayton would make roughly $3 million per year available to the Safe Routes to School program. However, those dollars would come from the General Fund, which is a less secure funding source than dedicated transportation dollars.

How can you help support walking and biking?

Active and healthy living advocates have a unique role to play by bringing a new voice to transportation funding discussions. Get involved and stay informed: Make sure you "like" the MN Safe Routes to School Coalition and Move MN Facebook pages.

Two new resources can help us communicate the need for pedestrian and bicycle funding to the public and lawmakers. Use them in conversations with friends, colleagues and legislators to elevate the importance of investing in a transportation system in Minnesota that supports walking and bicycling.

1. The statewide active transportation poll shows a significant majority (65%) of Minnesotans favor including additional funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in any transportation funding proposal state lawmakers consider.

2. The interactive online map shows funded and unfunded pedestrian and bicycle projects in Minnesota, including Safe Routes to School projects. Check out what is happening in your community.

The Bottom Line: Policymakers need to hear from YOU!

If Minnesota is to achieve significant, dedicated funding for improving the safety and convenience of walking and bicycling for all users, regardless of age or zip code, YOU need to take action and speak out! Watch for Action Alerts this legislative session to ensure walking and biking are a central part of the transportation discussion. And make sure to join us at the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Day at the Capitol on March 25, 2015 so you can advocate for walking and biking infrastructure. Register here now!

Thanks for your ongoing support!

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Study Shows More Deaths Linked to Smoking

 Check out this article from the Public News Source posted today! Smoking is deadlier than we have thought! (Picture - Franco/Flickr)

ST. PAUL, Minn. - While many of the dangers of smoking have been well known for some time, new research shows that the consequences may be larger and deadlier than previously thought.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 21 different causes of death are attributed to smoking, with some 480,000 deaths in the United States each year. A study co-authored by epidemiologist Brian Carter with the American Cancer Society examined the corollary health impacts even further.

"We identified at least six new causes of death that we think are probably associated with smoking," Carter said, "and if you look at these as an aggregate, that would add about 60,000 deaths per year to that 480,000 number." Continue reading here

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Facts Show Health Improvement from 2013 Tobacco Tax Increase

MINNPOST's article from yesterday shows that the 2013 tobacco tax increase is improving health throughout the state of Minnesota! Check out the article below.  (Photo - MINNPOST/Flickr)

It has been a year and a half since Minnesota implemented the 2013 tobacco tax increase of $1.60 per pack of cigarettes. Strong research — including state studies in the areas of health, employment and revenue — shows that the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton made the right decision for both the health of Minnesotans and the state budget by increasing the price of tobacco.

Over the past several decades, Minnesota has aggressively sought to separate the facts from fiction when it comes to tobacco. Today, here’s what is known:

Tobacco is still a problem in Minnesota.
Minnesota is realizing real health benefits from strong tobacco control efforts, including price increases.
The tobacco industry continues to try to disregard the public’s will and promote its profits over Minnesotans’ health. Continue reading here

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EMS Transport Protocols Bill Passes to House Floor!

Justin Bell (AHA), Buck McAlpin (MAA) and Rep. Nick Zerwas were up at the Capitol yesterday when House File 513 passed out of HHS Reform Committee and made its way to the House floor! The bill updates EMS protocols for stroke patients and includes the newly designated stroke hospitals across MN so that when minutes matter, stroke patients can get to appropriate facilities faster. Thank you Rep. Nick Zerwas for authoring this important legislation!


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Last Chance to Register for the MN Legislative Breakfast!

The Minnesota Legislative Breakfast is coming up next Wednesday February 18th at the Kelly Inn!  Register now to join advocates from Minnesota to speak with legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of acute care issues when treating heart disease and stroke. During this event you will have the opportunity to learn more about our system of care policy efforts and speak to lawmakers about the importance of supporting a strong statewide system of care to treat stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Breakfast is included. No cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

Don't miss out on this great even and register here now or call Jess at (952) 278-7928.

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Go Red event at Mall of America

This past Saturday, AHA held a Go Red Health Fair at the Mall of America. You’re the Cure advocates were there collecting petition cards in support of active transportation policy – funding walk and bike paths as part of the larger transportation investment in the state of Minnesota.

We were also asking kids to tell us, by drawing a picture what they do to stay active every day. The event produced great results and we collected more than 100 petition cards in support of the policy.

We want to thank our awesome volunteers, Norm, AmandaJean, Elaine, Erik, Rachel, Clara, Elliot, Amy, Angela and her daughter for coming out and supporting the cause, we could not have done this without you all!

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Share Your Story: Gene Johnson

Gene Johnson New Brighton, MN

On Sept.11,2002 I had a heart attack, followed immediately by a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). I had a series of miracles and fortuitous events that followed. My daughter called and told my wife to check on dad. I was laying on the driveway with the garden hose spewing water when my wife found me and called 911. The police picked up on the call and were only a few blocks away with a defibrillator. They were at my side in 3 minutes and shocked me two times before the ambulance arrived. I was taken to a nearby hospital where I had a quadruple bypass. I spent nice 9 days in the hospital...fully recovered after ten years. I changed my diet and exercise and am living a wonderful life!

Before my heart event, I worked hard to place AED’s in the community of New Brighton, Minn. and train people to use them. Little did I know that this work would save my life one day. As a result of that incident I have helped to place many more AEDs in police cars and emergency vehicles in the community.   My neighbors and the rest of the community have even organized the "Have a Heart Walk" to raise funds for the city to buy more defibrillators!

I also became one of the founders of the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors group, which provides support and information to other sudden cardiac arrest survivors. I love being a strong advocate for CPR and AED training, providing instruction to hundreds of people each year and speaking to thousands more to raise awareness. I was very fortunate and excited to work closely on the CPR in Schools bill in Minnesota that passed in 2011.

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Study Shows Impact of MN Tobacco Tax Increase

Check out how the tobacco industry is responding to the tax increase below in this new study from SMARTalk!

A newly published paper in Tobacco Control (Brock B, Choi K, Boyle RG, Moilanen M & Schillo BA, January 6, 2015) examines the tobacco industry’s response to a sizeable 2013 Minnesota tobacco tax increase. The paper, titled "Tobacco Product Prices Before and After a Statewide Tobacco Tax Increase" shares results from an observational study investigating tobacco product prices in a sample of 61 convenience stores in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin before and after the tobacco tax increase. The research found the tobacco industry increased their prices on top of the tobacco tax increase (a practice called over-shifting) and used in-store price promotions throughout the study period. Findings support the known public health benefit of tobacco tax increases while highlighting the need for additional information about how tobacco companies use price promotions to blunt the impact of tobacco tax increases.

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Litchfield Community Weighs In on Transportation Funding

This week the editorial board of the Litchfield Independent Review  overwhelmingly endorsed Move MN's balanced and holistic legislative proposal.
The op-ed agrees that Minnesota needs a 10-year commitment to fix our bridges, improve state highways and local roads, expand access to transit and create safer routes to school and work.
Join the American Heart Association in fighting for dedicated bike and pedestrian infrastructure funding as part of this package. Register for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day here. Check out the editorial below!

Minnesota’s transportation system is ailing, and the 2015 Legislature has the opportunity to find a cure.

The question is, will the Republican-controlled House and Senate choose a treatment that for some might involve the taking of a bitter pill? Or will they take the path of least resistance and prescribe a placebo that promises only short-term health?

A combination of a budget surplus spend-down and a tax increase makes the most sense, but the initial refusal by Republican leadership to consider increased fees or taxes is disappointing. And — so no one gets the idea that we’re simply bashing one party — we think Gov. Mark Dayton must at least attempt a more conciliatory and cooperative tone in the search for a compromise solution to our state’s sorely lacking transportation system. Continue reading here (photo - Litchfield Independent Review)



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Adult Smoking Rate falls to 14.4 Percent in Minnesota!

The Minnesota Department of Health posted a news release today on the fall of Minnesota's smoking rate. Check out the article below!

Findings from the latest Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (MATS) show that Minnesota is continuing to make progress in reducing tobacco use. Minnesota’s adult smoking rate has declined to 14.4 percent, the lowest rate ever recorded in the state and a significant decrease from 2010, the last time the rate was measured.

Conducted by ClearWay MinnesotaSM  and the Minnesota Department of Health, the MATS research project is the most thorough and accurate source of information about tobacco use among Minnesotans age 18 and older. For the new survey, more than 9,000 Minnesotans were interviewed by telephone in 2014.

"We know that many factors, including tobacco price increases, smoke-free policies, cessation programs and media, combine to reduce smoking prevalence over time," said Dr. Raymond Boyle, Director of Research Programs for ClearWay Minnesota. "The new MATS data suggest that Minnesota’s long-term investment in addressing tobacco use is paying off." Continue reading here


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