ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
State Rep. Brendan P. Crighton, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee and, state Rep. Daniel F. Cahill, left to right, during an interview at The Item last week.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — The city’s Beacon Hill delegation are celebrating their legislative accomplishments in the 2016 session and looking ahead to next year.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Item, Lynn Democrats Sen. Thomas M. McGee, Rep. Daniel F. Cahill, and Rep. Brendan Crighton noted a list of laws they supported that passed the Legislature.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Earned Income Tax Credit for income-eligible families was increased to a maximum of $1,459, up from $951, a 50 percent hike. The measure supports more than 400,000 working individuals and families in the Bay State.
In this year’s budget, the Legislature overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto to guarantee $12 million for families on the waiting list for early childhood education services.
An initiative to improve job prospects for the unemployed and low-wage workers won approval which helps employers train workers.
They won approval for the Training Resource and Internship Networks which partners with community colleges to provide training and internships for the long-term unemployed.
“We had pretty good success on these important items,” said McGee.
The Legislature also passed landmark legislation to address the deadly opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing the state.
The bill includes multiple provisions including a new program that allows the state to bulk purchase the anti-overdose drug Narcan. It allows communities to buy the antidote at a much lower cost and save lives. Last year 44 Lynn residents suffered fatal overdoses, double the number reported in 2012, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The rainy day was increased by $120 million.
While the delegation was unable to win Massachusetts Department of Transportation support to operate the ferry last summer, the Water Transportation Advisory Council was created over the governor’s veto. The panel plans to devise a regional water transportation system. While they lack budgetary powers, they can recommend steps to the Legislature.
“We missed the boat on the ferry,” McGee said. “Lynn is a key piece of a regional water transportation system that benefits Boston’s Seaport District, UMass Boston and the Convention Center.”
Crighton said helping to combat the opioid crisis was one of his best votes of the year.
“Even if you don’t know anyone who has died from an overdose, the impact on the society is significant,” he said. “You have parents who are addicted and can’t care for their kids and the children wind up having issues. Home and school lives are interrupted.”
The biggest battle facing Beacon Hill next year is between healthcare providers and insurance companies, according to Cahill.
“Providers say they need more funding to treat mental and behavioral health because those are the expensive patients they are seeing in emergency rooms,” he said. “But insurance companies are having a hard time paying for it because it’s a huge cost. You will see legislation filed next year that will mandate certain coverages or increase reimbursement rates for hospitals that serve those populations.”
Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]