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Proposition 99's First Implementing Legislation
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The Voluntary Health Agencies' Legislation

As preparation for working with the Legislature, members of the Coalition for a Healthy California met on February 3, 1989, to discuss their proposals for how the Proposition 99 monies should be spent. They agreed that their first priority was making sure that the Health Education and Research Accounts were spent for the purposes specified in the initiative. The Coalition supported Senate Bill (SB) 1099, sponsored by Senator Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Senate Health

Committee; the bill required that the Health Education money be used to fund tobacco use prevention programs through both the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the California Department of Education (CDE), using a grants mechanism rather than an entitlement-based program. Watson and her chief of staff, John Miller, had a close relationship with the voluntary health agencies, particularly the American Lung Association (ALA). They expected opposition to their plan because both the county health departments and CDE wanted all the money.[1] The voluntary health agencies also worried that the Proposition 99 money would not be used for real tobacco control efforts, but would instead disappear into existing generic programs under the assumption that these programs would include a tobacco control component.

By mid-February 1989, Miller, working with the ALA, ACS, and AHA lobbyists, had agreed that an anti-smoking media campaign should be funded from the Health Education Account. They agreed that Superintendent of Schools Bill Honig's “Healthy Kids, Healthy California” proposal should be handled through the grant proposal route and that only the portions of it that dealt with tobacco education would be funded from the Health Education Account. Similarly, proposals for comprehensive health education would be supported only insofar as they dealt with education about tobacco.[2]

Finally, the role and funding of an oversight committee for the health education programs was discussed. An oversight committee would be an independent body that would monitor only the Proposition 99 health education programs, as opposed to a legislative committee that has oversight over an extensive array of programs. While such a committee could both monitor and protect the program, its creation would take resources from direct program services, and the voluntary health agencies wanted to insure that most of the Proposition 99 revenues would go toward funding programs, not administration. (This concern would also manifest itself in fights over the amount of overhead research universities would receive from the Research Account.) In order to deal with ACS concerns about creating a new bureaucracy and the amount of power it would have, they agreed to limit the oversight committee's funding to one-fourth of one percent of the total Health Education Account budget.[2]

The conversations with CDE continued. On March 7, 1989, Coalition chair Jim Nethery and ALA representative Carolyn Martin wrote to Honig, summarizing what they believed to be “the essential areas of agreement” between the Coalition and CDE, based on a February 8 meeting: 70 percent of the money would go to programs focused on people

aged eighteen or younger, with an emphasis on school-based programs, a media component, the use of competitive grants for distributing the money, and the appointment of an oversight committee with some financial support. There was also agreement that DHS and CDE would each have half of the available money and that CDE would use Proposition 99 monies to fund only those portions of Healthy Kids, Health California that dealt specifically with tobacco.[3]

In March 1989 Watson introduced SB 1099 to allocate Health Education funds. The bill largely drew upon language contained in SB 2133, the bill she had introduced in the previous session. The language on what constituted tobacco education was specific: “It is the intent of the Legislature, therefore, to require the State Department of Health Services and the State Department of Education to both cooperatively and individually conduct activities directed at the prevention of tobacco use and tobacco related disease.”[4] SB 1099 also authorized the oversight committee to appoint an executive director and necessary support staff if it chose to do so. If the oversight committee could appoint an executive director and support staff, then it could indeed serve as an independent oversight commission. If it was forced to rely on staff from DHS or CDE, it would be less independent and potentially more subject to political pressures. By codifying the oversight committee's power to appoint staff in SB 1099, the Coalition was trying to establish the independence of the oversight committee.

The proponents understood that they were venturing into uncharted territory. No one had ever designed and implemented such a large and comprehensive tobacco control program. As a result, they sought to stress the experimental nature of the effort with the goal of refining the program as it developed. The three key elements underlying SB 1099 reflected this philosophy:

  • The creation of an outside oversight and policy committee to monitor the anti-tobacco program. The committee, which would be appointed by the Legislature and the Governor, would consist of both education and health interests and be responsible for the development and focus of the overall policies and guidelines for the Health Education Account funds.
  • An initial period of experimentation and evaluation to refine the program. It was decided that the first two years of the expenditure of the Health Education Account funds would support experimental
    projects and would also be used to evaluate existing programs. Funds would be distributed by a grant approach to public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors based on guidelines developed by the oversight committee. Both DHS and CDE would be involved in distributing money, but the plan was to have a varied approach to tobacco use prevention which would be better achieved through grants than by an entitlement-based program.
  • The development of a master implementation plan. After two years, an evaluation of the effectiveness of the programs would be conducted. The oversight committee would then develop a master plan to utilize the most successful programs with the goal of reducing tobacco use in California by 75% by the year 2000.[5]

In addition to a general framework, SB 1099 established several specific priorities for anti-tobacco education: (1) a focus on youth, with a minimum of 70 percent of the funds to be utilized for programs targeted at young people; (2) an emphasis on high-incidence/high-risk groups, recognizing that the tobacco industry was targeting lower-income and minority smokers; (3) a multifaceted approach, with 50 percent of the funds going to programs in schools and the other 50 percent to a variety of community-based programs; (4) cessation activities targeting people who were already smoking; and (5) efforts to protect nonsmokers from the health dangers of secondhand smoke. CDE was responsible for the school-based programs of the Health Education Account while DHS was responsible for the community-based programs. The oversight committee was to coordinate both departments' program implementation.

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