The Legislature will debate multiple proposals to create a specific position, and Gov. Janet Mills has said she plans to appoint an opioid czar as well.
Please go to the Portland Press Herald to read the full article.
BY ERIC RUSSELL – STAFF WRITER
Maine lawmakers will debate at least three bills to establish Cabinet-level positions in state government to respond to the prolonged opioid crisis that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the last three years.
Newly elected Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, also has pledged to create a new position – director of opiate response – to coordinate services across state agencies.
Malory Shaughnessy, executive director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services of Maine, which represents treatment providers, said she already has seen a shift in Augusta toward prioritizing response to the crisis that her members hope continues. During the last Legislature, Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have created a separate office in the Department of Health and Human Services to address opioids.
“I think communication has opened up in a way that providers feel like they have a partner,” Shaughnessy said.
When the 129th Legislature convenes this month, it’s expected to take up a host of bills that would tackle the problem. One of those bills, L.D. 80, sponsored by Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, seeks to establish the Department of Substance Use Disorder as a new agency outside the DHHS. It would be led by a commissioner appointed by the governor, and would oversee all services related to treatment and prevention.