CARE Act Signed Into Law

(BOSTON)- On August 9, 2018, An Act for prevention and access to appropriate care and treatment of addiction, was signed into law. The CARE Act includes initiatives to promote behavioral health and prevent substance use disorders, strengthen the behavioral health system, and enhance options for substance use treatment and recovery across the Commonwealth.

The CARE Act promotes substance misuse prevention through the creation of a Community-Based Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Trust Fund to support evidence-based and evidence-informed programs for children and young adults. The CARE Act expands access to non-opioid treatment options for pain management, and looks to strengthen consumer protection laws. The CARE Act will bolster the behavioral health system by expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and updating licensing authority for substance use treatment facilities, ensuring that patients are getting quality care. The CARE Act establishes a state-wide standing order for Naloxone, also known as Narcan, allowing anyone to purchase it without a prescription.

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2019 budget also included measures to fight the opioid epidemic, notably the following line items:

  • $142 million for the Bureau of Substance Addition Services to create five recovery centers in Massachusetts.
  • $5 million to support community-based treatment program.
  • $4.9 million for step-down recovery services.
  • $1 million to provide increased access to Narcan to first responders.

“Crafting thoughtful solutions to the opioid epidemic is imperative to addressing this ongoing public health crisis,” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “The Massachusetts Legislature took the next necessary steps by supporting community-based prevention and treatment.”

The opioid epidemic has deeply affected Massachusetts. In 2016, there were 1,821 opioid-related overdose deaths in the state. By way of comparison, the rate of opioid-related deaths in our state was 29.7 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is more than twice the rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons nationwide. The CARE Act is an important piece of the Massachusetts Legislature’s greater commitment to combatting this epidemic through comprehensive prevention strategies and increased quality of and access to treatment.

Age to Purchase Tobacco to be Increased to 21 Across Massachusetts

(BOSTON)Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in voting to enact An Act protecting youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine addiction. The new law raises the legal age to purchase tobacco statewide from 18 to 21 years of age, and further regulates vaping and the use of e-cigarettes.

“This legislation has the potential to promote public health across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Meschino. “In our communities as well as statewide, we have seen increased rates of tobacco use among our youth and young adults due to the growing popularity of vaping devices. This new law takes steps necessary to help keep children healthy.”

In addition to raising the age to purchase tobacco, the new law updates the Massachusetts’ Smoke-Free Workplace Law to include e-cigarettes and vapes, thereby ensuring that the use of all tobacco and vapor products is prohibited in establishments where the use of traditional tobacco is currently prohibited. The new law also prohibits the use of these products on school grounds, and prohibits their sale by healthcare institutions. The new law requires child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers.

Tobacco use and nicotine use remain a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the Commonwealth, with more than $4 billion spent annually in Massachusetts on smoking-related healthcare costs. In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that 90 percent of smokers try smoking before age 18, and 75 percent of teen smokers continue to smoke into adulthood. Studies show the most effective way to lower smoking rates is to prevent teenagers from trying tobacco in the first place; the Institute of Medicine released a 2015 study that found that increasing the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products to 21 years old will prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults.

This legislation will take effect December 31, 2018. Individuals who turn 18 before this date will be exempt from the Act’s minimum sales age requirement.

Automatic Voter Registration Bill Signed into Law

(BOSTON) – On Thursday, August 9th, a bill establishing an automatic voter registration process for the State of Massachusetts was signed into law. With the implementation of automatic voter registration, the legislature seeks to facilitate civic engagement for the 700,000 residents of Massachusetts who are eligible to vote but are unregistered.

“The democratic process requires broad civic engagement that reaches across all demographics to ensure that all are represented and heard.” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull).  “Automatic voter registration is a convenient process that will promote participation among all eligible citizens.”

The bill, H.4384, An Act relative to automatic voter registration, contains provisions that would link voter registration to initial applications and information updates to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and MassHealth. Rather than requiring eligible voters to opt-in to register, this provision would instead create an opt-out process for eligible residents who may not wish to register to vote. This measure will take effect on January 1, 2020.

Legislature Passes Civics Education Curriculum

(BOSTON) - Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 25th to enact S.2631, An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement. This legislation is the result of years of advocacy and collaboration between a bipartisan collective of legislators in the House and Senate, and would implement a civics education curriculum in all Massachusetts public schools.

The legislation promotes a hands-on and experiential approach to fostering civic engagement. It incorporates project-based learning components, encourages the instruction of civic competencies – including news and media literacy – and provides extracurricular civic-participation opportunities.

“Students will learn the ways to become engaged in their communities, and hopefully their experience will inspire them to step forward as our future leaders,” said Representative Meschino. “Teaching the value of civic engagement is a critical part of maintaining a healthy democracy.”

The Governor has returned the bill with an amendment, which is currently being considered by the House and Senate.

Beach Goers Create Interactive Art on the Shore with Andres Amador on Nantasket Beach

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(HULL)- On Saturday, July 21st, intertidal sand artist Andres Amador made extraordinary art in the sand at Nantasket Beach in Hull as part of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)’s Better Beaches program. This program has brought the California-based artist to Boston for several years to create interactive art on the region's public beaches.

This year in Hull, Amador led a sand-raking workshop in the morning. Participants included Bart Blumberg of the Hull Artists Association and Chris Maher of the Hull Cultural Council. In the afternoon, community members had a chance to participate in a collaborative community mural on the sand. The theme for the day was "sea life" and beach goers created fish, sea horses, sharks, jelly fish, and more across several hundred feet of Nantasket Beach.

“It was great fun for beachgoers, young and old, to share in the joy of creating art in the sand,” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “I applaud Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Better Beaches program for finding creative and new ways to engage beachgoers with the natural environment and with each other through artistic expression.”

Legislature Passes Balanced Budget; Targets Local Aid, Education and Opioid Epidemic

(BOSTON) – Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the Legislature on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, to enact a $41.88 billion Massachusetts state budget for FY19.

The budget features no new taxes or fees and directs a $367 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund to ensure the Commonwealth’s fiscal health and to protect Massachusetts’ future. The budget also prioritizes our cities and towns, education and those most in need of help.

In recognition of the state’s strong support for education, the Legislature approved an unprecedented $4.9 billion in Chapter 70 education funding, which represents an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous fiscal year and increases funding for teacher health care costs by $39 million. Education funding also features $319.4 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker, $90 million for Charter School Reimbursement, $68.9 million for Regional School Transportation and $5 million to fund the Preschool Partnership Initiative.

The budget reflects the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of children and families by lifting the cap on benefits for children of low income families. This change takes effect in January 2019. The budget also provides $2.5 million for continued support for early childhood mental health consultation services and $20 million to support high-quality Early Education and Care (EEC) programs. The budget also provides $10 million to create an EEC workforce development initiative to tie professional development and higher education opportunities more closely to our community colleges.

As part of an ongoing effort to ensure access to safe and affordable housing for the most vulnerable Massachusetts residents, the budget provides $100 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $32 million for the HomeBASE program, $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program and establishes a $5 million rapid homeless rehousing program.

To address the ongoing opioid epidemic, the budget includes $142 million for the Bureau of Substance Addition Services to create five recovery centers in Massachusetts. The budget features $5 million to support community-based treatment program, $4.9 million for step-down recovery services and $1 million to provide increased access to Narcan to first responders.

In an effort to preserve outdoor spaces and protect our natural environment, the budget includes $900,000 for the maintenance, operational and infrastructure needs of the metropolitan beaches, including Nantasket Beach Reservation in Hull.

“The budget we enacted supports our local municipalities, and invests in people and services,” said Representative Meschino. “I am proud to see the Legislature put together a budget that prioritizes our constituents, and is fiscally sound.”

In addition the budget includes the following provisions highlighted below.

  • With the goal of creating an accessible economy to all workers, the creation of a pilot program to promote employment in state contracts with persons with disabilities.
  • Requiring the Administration to acknowledge and sometimes waive the unique tax burden on small businesses with high-turnover workforces that are the hardest hit by the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplement assessment.
  • Creates an Office of Health Equity to address social determinants of health and environmental justice to improve health outcomes among people of color.
  • Expands access to non-profits working with the state to discounted Naloxone, helping to make it more available at a lower cost.
  • Establishes of a permanent Tax Expenditure Unit in Department of Revenue that would examine the usefulness of every tax credit on an ongoing basis – to ensure our tax payers are receiving worthwhile returns on their investments.

For the 3rd Plymouth District, the budget provides funding for:

  • An Aquatic Weed Harvester for Cohasset
  • Animal Control in Cohasset and Hull
  • Structural repairs of the Whitney Wharf in Hingham
  • A behavior health program through Manet Community Health Center in Hull
  • Main street economic development and storefront improvements in Hull
  • Scituate Community Christmas, Inc.
  • A mobile de-watering pump for Scituate Fire Department

The budget also provides increased Chapter 70 funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid for Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, and Scituate. In addition, it provides increased state aid for public libraries, and increased funding for Mass Cultural Council.

This iteration of the budget is now with the Governor for his consideration.                                                                                       

House Passes Automatic Voter Registration Bill

(BOSTON) - Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the House of
Representatives on Wednesday, June 27th to pass legislation establishing an automatic voter
registration process for the state of Massachusetts. With the implementation of automatic voter
registration, the legislature sought to facilitate civic engagement for the 700,000 residents of
Massachusetts who are eligible to vote but are unregistered.
“The democratic process requires broad civic engagement that reaches across all demographics
to ensure that all are represented and heard.” said Representative Meschino. “Automatic voter
registration is a simple and convenient registration process that will promote participation among
all eligible citizens.”
The bill, H.4320, An Act relative to automatic voter registration, contains provisions that would
link voter registration to initial applications and information updates to the Registry of Motor
Vehicles and MassHealth. Rather than requiring eligible voters to opt-in to register, this
provision would instead create an opt-out process for eligible residents who may not wish to
register to vote. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the measure would take effect
January 1, 2020.

Scituate Woman Kim Stewart Honored as Unsung Heroine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018

BOSTON – State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) was honored to attend the fifteenth
annual Unsung Heroines celebration at the Massachusetts State House. Through the Unsung
Heroine award, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women honors women in the
Commonwealth who work hard every day to serve their communities, dedicating their time and
effort to the betterment of all of our lives across the state. This award is intended to celebrate
women whose work often goes unrecognized, for their leadership and volunteerism.
Kim Stewart of Scituate was nominated and honored with the Unsung Heroine award by State
Representative James M. Cantwell (D-Marshfield). Ms. Stewart has served for 22 years as the
Scituate Animal Control Officer, and was named the 2017 Animal Control Officer of the Year by
the Animal Rescue League in Boston and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA.) In addition to her work with animals, Ms. Stewart has dedicated
time to the people in her community, serving as co-chair of the Scituate Community Christmas,
which provides gifts and assistance to families facing economic hardships. Ms. Stewart also
serves on the Board of the Scituate Alliance of Natural Disaster Services (SANDS), providing
assistance to residents during natural disasters. Representative Meschino and Representative
Cantwell presented Ms. Stewart with a joint citation to commend her for her dedication to the
community of Scituate.
“I am delighted to see the Kim Steward recognized as an Unsung Heroine for the years of service
towards her community,” said Representative Meschino. “She has served both the people and the
animals of Scituate, and the Commonwealth at large, with compassion and empathy.”
A complete list of this year’s honorees is available by contacting the Commission; to request this
list or for additional information please contact the MCSW at 617-626-6520 or
mcsw@state.ma.us.

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Cohasset Woman Christine Murphy Honored as Unsung Heroine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2018 

BOSTON – State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) was honored to attend the fifteenth
annual Unsung Heroines celebration at the Massachusetts State House. Through the Unsung
Heroine award, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women honors women in the
Commonwealth who work hard every day to serve their communities, dedicating their time and
effort to the betterment of all of our lives across the state. This award is intended to celebrate
women whose work often goes unrecognized, for their leadership and volunteerism.
Christine Murphy of Cohasset was nominated and honored with the Unsung Heroine award by
Representative Meschino. Ms. Murphy has significantly contributed to the community, serving
as a board member of the Cohasset Social Service League, where she worked to establish a brand
new senior center in the town. Following this, Ms. Murphy turned her attention towards the
addiction crisis, establishing the Safe Harbor Cohasset Coalition and designing programming
dedicated to promoting drug prevention among local youth. Ms. Murphy was also responsible for
securing a grant from Drug-Free Communities, allowing her to hire a full time professional staff
to manage Safe Harbor Cohasset.
“I am proud to see Christine Murphy celebrated as an Unsung Heroine,” said Representative
Meschino. “She has done so much to promote the betterment of Cohasset through her
community initiatives and could not be more deserving of this title.”
A complete list of this year’s honorees is available by contacting the Commission; to request this
list or for additional information please contact the MCSW at 617-626-6520 or
mcsw@state.ma.us.

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House Passes Legislation for Environmental Protection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 19, 2018 

BOSTON – Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the House of
Representatives on Wednesday, June 13th to pass legislation authorizing spending on
environmental programs. The bill, H.4599, also known as the Environmental Bond Bill,
authorizes over a billion dollars in funding to protect against the impacts of climate change and
conserve natural resources. The funding and policy proposed in this legislation will reach every
corner of the Commonwealth, from coastal infrastructure to agricultural preservation. The Bond
Bill also invests in water and air quality protection, municipal vulnerability preparedness grants,
and an electric vehicle incentive program. These are critical steps to making Massachusetts a
leader in global climate change solutions, and to preserving our community’s natural assets for
generations to come.
“Climate change and sea level rise are urgent issues that my community faces,” said
Representative Meschino. “I was proud to collaborate with my colleagues to ensure that the state
will be able to allocate the necessary funds to climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
Representative Meschino was able to obtain an authorization of $500,000 for a Regional Hazard
Mitigation Initiative for the towns of Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, and Scituate. This initiative
would coordinate a prioritized regional hazard mitigation plan to improve collective hazard
planning, increase public safety, and streamline emergency response across the 3rd Plymouth
district. This legislation will ensure that we can protect our coastal communities from the
impacts of climate change.

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