House spending plan includes early voting reimbursement, opioid treatment

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Massachusetts State House

State Rep. Elizabeth “Betty” Poirier [R-North Attleborough] recently joined with her colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve a $423.7 million final deficiency budget to close the books on Fiscal Year 2020.

House Bill 5102 was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 157-0 on Nov. 5. In addition to addressing existing shortfalls at several state agencies, the supplemental spending bill also contains a number of statewide funding and policy initiatives.

Poirier noted that the bill allocates $727,170 to reimburse cities and towns for early voting costs associated with the March 3 presidential primary. It also provides $11.9 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursements through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

To help address the opioid epidemic, House Bill 5102 establishes an Opioid Recovery and Remediation Trust Fund that will be administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and will be used to provide expanded access to prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery options. The bill also allows for a period of up to 20 years in which causes of action concerning prescription opioids can be brought against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., or any of those companies’ current or former owners, directors, officers or consultants.

House Bill 5102 also makes changes to the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act by allowing personal care attendants and family child care providers to be included in the definition of “covered individuals.”

Additional funding initiatives contained in House Bill 5102 include:

  • $2.7 million in affordable housing grants;
  • $250,000 for the Office of the Child Advocate;
  • $711,947 for the Department of Elder Affairs Home Care Aide Training Program;
  • $250,000 in grants for Councils on Aging;
  • $6.6 million for State Police Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) testing;
  • $720,000 for the Department of Public Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) & Pediatric SANE Program;
  • $988,913 for school-based health programs;
  • $4.2 million for National Guard tuition and fee waivers;
  • $1.1 million in Welcome Home Bonus life insurance premium reimbursements;
  • $378,000 for vocational rehabilitation for people with disabilities; and
  • $66,800 for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s Independent Living Assistance program.

House Bill 5102 now heads to the Senate for further action.