THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2022 Page 19 BHRC | FROM PAGE 18 or to patient use. Every day, thousands of Bay Staters rely on them doing their job with perfection.” (A “Yes” vote is for the bill). Sen. Brendan Crighton Yes ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL $350 MILLION FOR ROADS AND BRIDGES AND MORE (H 4638) — The Senate approved a House-approved $350 million package that includes authorizing $200 million in onetime funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state to be distributed under the Chapter 90 program formula. Only fi nal House and Senate approval are needed prior to the measure going to the governor. The package, a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds, also includes $150 million to pay for bus lanes, improvement of public transit, electric vehicles and other state transportation projects. “The commonwealth’s overall transportation system relies on the health of our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. “The bill … represents a $350 million investment that will help cities and towns make the improvements they need so that residents can travel safely and effi ciently.” Geoff Beckwith, the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, is one of the biggest advocates for increased Chapter 90 funding. “With the local road construction season underway, passage of the Chapter 90 bond bill is an important priority so that communities can maximize the number of projects that can be completed this year,” said Beckwith. Many local officials across the state continue to advocate for additional money to increase the funding and argue that the cost of repairing roads has increased by up to 40 percent while the state has kept this funding fl at at $200 million for the past 11 years. EXPANDED USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA (H 4537) — A bill that would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and opioid use disorder to the current list of conditions for which a doctor could prescribe medical marijuana, is stuck in the Committee on Health Care Financing which gave it a favorable report on March 24. The bill is a redrafted different version of an earlier bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Soter (R-Bellingham), designed to expand access to medical marijuana for veterans. “This legislation is the result of a collaboration with a constituent of mine, Stephen Mandile, who is a veteran, local elected offi cial and father,” said Soter. “The initial intent of the bill was to expand access to medical marijuana for veterans. However, I am disappointed to say that specific veteran-related pieces of the original bill were removed during the committee process, the scope of the bill has changed and the current language works to benefi t a broader population while straying away from the initial intent of a strong veteran-centric bill. Beacon Hill Roll Call asked Soter several times whether he supports the new version of the bill since his version is now essentially dead. Soter’s “non-answer” came from his chief of staff Eric Eisner. ““The representative stated that he is disappointed that the veteran-centric language within the bill has been stripped out during the committee process,” said Eisner. Further, this is not the fi rst session that this legislation has been presented. “ SEVERAL BILLS ON THEIR WAY TO A “STUDY” COMMITTEE — The Committee on Cannabis Policy recommended that several bills be shipped off to a study committee where bills are rarely actually studied and are essentially defeated. It is a way to kill a proposal without holding a vote on the bill itself. Here are some of the bills that will soon be sent off to a study committee: PREVENT YOUTH SUBSTANCE ABUSE (S78) — Would direct 1 percent of the state tax revenue generated from the cannabis excise tax toward a fund that would be responsible for supporting programs dedicated to prevention of youth substance use. “A report released this week by the Department of Public Health indicated the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths increased 8.8 percent in 2021 compared to 2020,” said sponsor Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “With the continued rise in substance use deaths, I believe we need to provide as much support as possible to ensure we do not lose any more of our neighbors. The state currently fi nancially benefi ts a great deal from the legalization of cannabis, and I believe this legislation provides us with an opportunity to educate young people on the dangers of addiction. I am looking forward to fi ling the bill again next session.” PROHIBIT TESTING FOR MARIJUANA USE WITHOUT CONSENT (H 4026) — Would prohibit doctors and health care facilities from testing a patient for the presence of marijuana without fi rst obtaining written consent from the patient. If written consent is given, the measure prohibits the release of the results to anyone except for the patient unless the patient gives written consent. Sponsor Rep. Russell Holmes BHRC | SEE PAGE 20

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