AUGUSTA – The Maine State Legislature is in recess right now. But some legislators continue to search for ways to stem the tide of the state’s opioid epidemic.
The Opioid Task Force members have a December target date to present findings and recommendations to the full legislature.
“I expect that there will be a report on proposals whether the task force actually suggests a bill or recommends that committee of jurisdiction focus on pending legislation.” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing, R-Newport.
One member of the task force said he believes key issues before the group include health insurance, the stigma of drug addiction, and providing help for babies born with opiates in their systems.
According to Senator Geoffrey Gratwick, D-Bangor, in 2016 there were 1,000 babies born who had been exposed to opiates. He stated “Are they addicted the answer is no. They did not take the drugs. They are not addicted. But they’ve been exposed to the drugs and they are going to go through withdrawal.”
Last year, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, opiate overdoses were responsible for on average a death every day.
Recently, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Now lawmakers said that could free up some federal funding that could help pay for some much needed programs to tackle this problem.