STATE ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS: SUCCESSES
Last evening, the Ketchum City Council voted unanimously to pass a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that includes bars, small businesses, hotels and motels, hookah bars, tobacco shops, bus stops and various outdoor areas. The new law also doesn’t include any exemptions for e-cigarettes, and it will go into effect next Wednesday, April 24th. Congratulations to Idaho on this victory!
After 2 years of planning, 19 committees, over 100 amendments, and countless hours of discussion, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act into law on March 20, 2013. This law, which establishes a state-run health insurance exchange which will be called MNSure, establishes a consumer-friendly, Minnesota-made marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for and compare health insurance plans that meet their needs.
MNSure includes some important consumer protections: board members are banned from having financial conflicts of interest, the board has the power to vet the plans offered on the Exchange and choose the highest quality offerings, and the navigator program must be broad and serve the varied needs of many communities. MNSure has a fair funding mechanism; up to 3.5 % of the premium cost is withheld to pay for the Exchange, so those who benefit from the Exchange pay for it.
The board will be appointed by April 30, 2013, health plans will have until June 19 to submit products for review, enrollment opens on Oct. 1, and coverage goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. The timeline is short, but the Governor’s administration has been working to get the pieces in place by the time MNSure opens for business.
Thanks to our many advocacy volunteers who testified in front of task forces and committees, and wrote letters, made calls, and attended meetings, and to the bill authors, who fought to keep consumer protections in the bill, Minnesota will have one of the most consumer-friendly health insurance exchanges in the country.
Measure 4, a smoke-free ballot initiative in North Dakota supported by ACS CAN, passed yesterday 66.66% to 33.34%. The measure approved Tuesday puts into place a comprehensive law prohibiting indoor smoking in places not protected under current state statute, including bars, motels, private nursing homes, cabs and public transportation. It also prohibits smoking within 20 feet of an entrance to a public building and includes e-cigarettes as smoking. The new statute will go into effect one month after the results are certified. Congratulations on this major win!
This morning, Johnson County, Indiana commissioners unanimously passed a smoke-free ordinance that prohibits smoking in all public businesses, including bars, hotels, restaurants and private clubs. The ban is stricter than rules previously passed in the cities of Franklin and Greenwood, which now will have to follow the county’s ban. This new law will take effect on January 1, 2013. Congratulations!
The Cook County Board in Illinois voted favorably today (10-6) to increase the county cigarette tax by $1. Combined with the $1 state cigarette tax increase passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, it’s safe to say this has been a great year for tobacco control advocacy in the State of Illinois! The increase will go in effect January 1, 2013 and brings the Cook County cigarette tax rate up to $3 per pack. Congratulations!