AUGUSTA | Today the Senate members and House Democrats on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee voted to approve a bipartisan bill to combat drug addiction in Maine through law enforcement, treatment, prevention, and recovery. The bill was voted Ought to Pass as Amended 9-4. Representatives Timberlake (R-Turner), Sirocki (R-Scarborough), Nutting (R-Oakland) and Winsor (R-Norway) declined to support the majority report citing opposition based on relatively minor issues within the bill.
“We continue to hear an urgent call to action from survivors, their parents, and those on the front lines of this epidemic” said Representative Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston), Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on this proposal and the slate of other bills before us this session to help address the drug crisis which threatens the health and well-being of our communities.”
“This package is a down payment on our commitment to fighting the state’s devastating, deadly drug addiction crisis,” said Senator Linda Valentino, the lead Senate Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. “Democrats and Republicans alike came together on the Appropriations Committee to make sure our state took this important first step. We hear a lot about how divided we are in the Legislature, but on this issue, we are united.”
Sponsored by Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) and House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick), LD 1537 “An Act to Combat Drug Addiction Through Enforcement, Treatment, Prevention and Recovery moved through both Criminal Justice and Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees last week by a vote of 10-2 and 6-2 respectively.
“Today’s strong committee vote in support of LD 1537 reflects the vital importance to our state of turning this drug epidemic around - we must not delay supports for prevention, treatment and recovery any longer,” said Representative Linda Sanborn (D-Gorham)
In the coming days the bill will move to the Senate. The bill joins a series of others moving forward that are aimed at crafting a comprehensive approach to combatting Maine’s drug crisis.
Members of three legislative committees heard overwhelming support for the plan during a public hearing last week which included testimony from approximately 100 members of the public representing law enforcement, medical professionals, people in recovery, and parents. Supportive organizations included the Maine Chief’s Association, the Maine Sheriff’s Association, the Maine Medical Association, Western Maine Addiction Task Force, AARP, the Mayor’s Coalition, the Maine Primary Care Association, the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association and others.
“Chief Bob Fitzsimmons, a member of my community, drove almost 3 hours to testify in the public hearing for this bill to desperately ask for the help he needs to save the lives of our kids and families," said Representative Maker, (R-Calais) I’m proud to see members have put politics aside to support a bill with common sense solutions that will move us forward in solving this deadly crisis.”
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