Senate seeks funding for Chenette bill to fight drug addiction

Posted: May 31, 2017 | Appropriations and Financial Affairs, Senator Chenette
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AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Wednesday forwarded LD 377, a bill to send much needed resources to York County to combat drug addiction and recidivism, to the Special Appropriations Table — the final step necessary before the bill can be enacted.

The move signals the Senate’s desire that budget-writers find funding so the bill may be enacted. All bills that require funding must be sent to the Appropriations Committee before the Senate may pass them into law.

The bill, “A Resolve to Establish the York County Jail Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Pilot Program,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.

The final version of the legislation would provide nearly $1 million annually to the York County Jail to offer substance abuse therapy to inmates. The goal is to provide necessary treatment services to inmates with substance use disorders, either as residential and/or outpatient community-based services. This pilot project would then report back to the legislature to determine effectiveness and whether to use the program as a statewide model.

“At 378 overdose deaths last year, Maine is breaking records for lives claimed by the drug epidemic. This bill empowers York County to address this problem, and I’m hopeful that the Appropriations Committee will devote the resources we need to fund it” said Sen. Chenette. “We can’t afford another another death.”

Drug addiction is especially prevalent in jails and prisons throughout the country. According to a 2010 report by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 85 percent of jail and prison inmates are involved with substance abuse.

Chenette’s bill earned the endorsement of the Portland Press Herald earlier this year, as well as York County Sheriff William King, the Maine Sheriffs Association and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in Maine.

Lawmakers on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee will consider funding for the bill during the ongoing budget negotiations.

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