Augusta – Tuesday, the House and Senate unanimously approved a bill to help fight the Maine’s drug crisis and a short time later Governor LePage signed the bill into law. The passage of the LD 1537 “An Act To Combat Drug Addiction through Enforcement, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery” is a good first step but a more comprehensive approach is still needed.
House Republicans had two major issues with the bill in its original form, namely the proposed funding source to be used to pay for much of the treatment aspects of the bill and the appointment of the Attorney General to disperse grants to local law enforcement agencies and county jails.
In the final version of the bill that passed unanimously, funds from the Medical Use of Marijuana Fund were designated as the funding source and the Department of Public Safety was appointed to administer the aforementioned grants. Both of these changes were palatable to House Republicans and very closely resemble the minority report put forward by the House Republicans on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
“House Republicans have always agreed that Maine is in the midst of a drug crisis and something needed to be done,” said House Republican Leader, Rep. Ken Fredette of Newport. “The fact that everyone was able to sit down and listen to one another’s concerns was instrumental in getting this bill passed. House Republicans had their issues with the original bill and all of those issues were resolved in a way that worked for everyone.”
“This bill is by no means a silver bullet but it certainly is a good starting point,” said Assistant House Republican Leader Ellie Espling of New Gloucester. “We applaud the bipartisan way in which this bill was ultimately passed and are hopeful that this sets a positive tone and we can all continue to have a voice in the process as we move forward.”