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Proposition 99's First Implementing Legislation
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Other Significant Tobacco Education Legislation

Watson's bill was not the only bill dealing with how the Health Education Account money would be spent. By the end of March, two other bills were also being given serious attention—Assembly Bill 1695, introduced by Assembly Member Bruce Bronzan (D-Fresno), and SB 1392, introduced by Senator Barry Keene (D-Benicia). Unlike SB 1099, which concentrated on reducing tobacco use, these two bills represented the interests of forces that sought to use the Health Education Account money for medical service programs with a much less direct connection, if any, to tobacco control.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1695 concentrated on developing a


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comprehensive health education program instead of one aiming to reduce tobacco use. Although Bronzan authored AB 1695, the bill was chiefly proposed and lobbied by Steve Thompson, director of the Assembly Office of Research, on behalf of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.[6] The new program, which was called the Comprehensive Maternal and Child Health Program, targeted women, children, and adolescents and resembled the programs suggested to the Tobacco Institute by Nielsen, Merksamer in December 1988 for moving money into “acceptable” areas.[7] Although a tobacco education component was included as a small part of the program, the bill's main purpose was to consolidate several state health programs into one single new program, which would include provisions for health education and dental disease prevention through grade school programs; nutritional supplements to pregnant women, new mothers, and their children; and childhood immunizations, health screening, and hospital and physician services for the target populations. The bill would have appropriated $123.3 million from the Health Education Account to fund the program.

In reaction to AB 1695, Assembly Member Lloyd Connelly (D-Sacramento) again went to the Legislative Counsel, this time asking if the Comprehensive Maternal and Child Health Act could be funded legally from the Health Education Account. On May 4, 1989, the Legislative Counsel issued the opinion that it could not be funded with money from the Health Education Account because the funding of medical services was not the purpose of the account as presented to voters.[8] Despite the fact that it violated Proposition 99, the voluntary health agencies had to give the bill serious attention because comprehensive health issues were popular and Bronzan was chair of the Assembly Health Committee, the program committee that would likely hold hearings on the plans for the Health Education Account funds. In addition, AB 1695 had the support of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and of the county health departments, which would benefit financially because most of the proposed programs were to be operated at the county level.

SB 1392 was also a major competitor to SB 1099 because Keene, its author, was the Senate majority leader and the former chair of the Assembly Health Committee. In addition to Keene's sponsorship, the bill had other powerful supporters: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represented county-level heath workers, the County Supervisors Association of California (CSAC), and numerous other county medical service providers and their proponents. The County Health Officers Association also supported it. In addition, the


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administration, acting through the Health and Welfare Agency, had stated that its priority was to channel as much of the tobacco tax revenue as possible to county programs, thereby alleviating the counties' demands on the state's General Fund.

Instead of a centrally organized basis for distributing tobacco tax funds like SB 1099 and AB 1695, SB 1392 proposed a locally based distribution system using policy recommendations from DHS but preserving local autonomy. Targeted recipients included pregnant women, children, and workplace and community services, including smoking cessation and tobacco control programs. No money was set aside for schools. It was more difficult for proponents of SB 1099 to criticize SB 1392 than AB 1695, since it specifically mentioned anti-tobacco efforts. There were still several items of concern, however, because the target groups were narrowly defined, there was little state oversight or direction, and there was enough latitude to make all kinds of health education, such as alcohol or nutrition, legitimate under the bill. DHS was to develop programs for use in local communities, but the money would essentially go to the counties as block grants with some strings attached. Nevertheless, because of Keene's sponsorship and the fact that the bill gave financial assistance to the counties, Proposition 99 advocates recognized that it would be given consideration along with SB 1099. CDE opposed the bill.

Most of the competition for the Health Education Account money took place in late spring and early summer in behind-the-scenes negotiations among the various interests that were pushing their programs. Although it was clear from the opinion polls conducted at the time of Proposition 99 that the public wanted the Proposition 99 funds to go to anti-tobacco education and research more than it wanted the money to go to indigent health care (table 1), the Legislature was on record through its previous actions as being unsupportive of tobacco control efforts but supportive of health care screening for children. In particular, funding health care for sick children was attractive to liberals and keeping money out of tobacco education was attractive to members across the political spectrum who supported the tobacco industry.


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Proposition 99's First Implementing Legislation
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