Signs supplemental budget, civics education bill, and adjourns in memory of victims in Pittsburgh
BOSTON- State Senator Nick Collins brought the Senate to order this week, gaveling in and presiding over a session that included the passage of major statewide policy legislation, including a civics education bill, a supplemental spending plan with an emphasis on public health and the substance abuse epidemic, a municipal naloxone bulk purchasing program, collective bargaining agreements for UMass Boston and the Suffolk County Sherriff’s Office, and $70 million in relief for struggling hospitals and community health centers through the Health Safety Net Trust Fund.
The supplemental budget creates a Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund, allowing municipalities, nonprofits, and Sheriff Departments to join the program and purchase the lifesaving overdose reversal medication. In 2017, opioid-related overdose deaths fell by 8%, partially accredited to the widespread use of Naloxone, commonly known as “narcan,” which blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an opioid overdose. The program will not only increase access to narcan, but will also provide technical assistance to participating groups to ensure meaningful training and registration.
“We know Narcan saves lives so it is critical to put the resources in places where they can be most effective,” said State Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston). “As substance abuse continues to rip through our communities, I am proud that the Legislature is continuing our commitment to fighting this epidemic.”
The supplemental budget also included:
- $70 million in relief to struggling hospitals and community health centers
- $20 million for community support services for those with brain injuries or in long-term care
- $10 million for employment assistance services for disabled adults
- $5 million for targeted intervention to chronically underperforming school districts
- $2.5 million to help cover the costs of early voting in municipalities across the Commonwealth
- $2.3 million for community based and in-home support services for children and families
- $150,000 for environmental & community health hazards programs, including lead poisoning prevention
- Authorization of collective bargaining agreements at UMass and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office
The Senate also passed the Civics Education bill requiring that all schools in Massachusetts adopt curriculum of United States History, Social Sciences, and Civics in order to promote civic service and prepare students for active and engaged citizenship.
“In these turbulent times, I was especially proud to sign this bill on behalf of the Massachusetts State Senate,” said Senator Collins. “As we watch the erosion of substantive and respectful civil discourse, it is important to underscore that civics education in this state will prepare future generations to be knowledgeable about government and engaged in the process.”
The Senate adjourned in memory of the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and those of the recent shootings in Kentucky. In one instance, victims were gunned down in their place of worship because of their religion, and in another the victims were targeted based on their skin color. Both were fueled by a hateful bigotry which the Massachusetts State Senate unequivocally condemns and actively works against, and the chamber chose to honor their memory with a somber moment of silent reflection.