Funding for opioids highlight legislative session
DARIEN — The 2018 legislative session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourned last May with a last minute bipartisan budget.
Rep. Terrie Wood, R-141, representing Darien and Norwalk, focused on particular points — opioids and transportation — at a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday evening.
Senate Bill 483, which proposes that opioid overdoses be reported in real time, was one of them. Opioid overdoses claimed 917 lives in Connecticut in 2016 according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner but are not reportable conditions — only the number of deaths, not survivals from overdoses, are reported.
Wood co-sponsored the bill that was recently passed to Gov. Dannel Malloy June 1 according to the Connecticut General Assembly webpage.
“We’ve had 3,000 overdoses this year — not deaths, overdoses — but we’re not moving the needle downward at all,” Wood said. “This bill would require all emergency personnel to file with local department of public health offices about how many people they treated, if they used Narcan (and other factors).”
Recently, local efforts like the Community Fund of Darien’s partnership with the town’s Health and Police departments have taken the initiative to further research on the impact of opioid abuse in Darien.
Regarding transportation, the topic of the constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this November regarding a Special Transportation Fund “lockbox”, a mechanism that would ensure that money allocated to said fund remain there, was brought up.
The Special Transportation Fund was imperiled this past legislative session. $4.3 billion in public projects were halted indefinitely earlier this year. Legislators were able to balance the fund again with the addition of a car sales tax.
What the term “transportation” entailed, however was questioned.
“This may seem like a dumb question,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson asked. “In this context, what is the definition of transportation? Does this include transit-oriented development or things ancillary to transportation?”
Wood responded that that would have to be worked on by the legislators.
“Transportation will be different in four to five years,” Wood said. “Who knows where it will be but my concern is that it says the legislation cannot spend in the special transportation fund but it doesn’t dictate that all of the money must go into the fund.”
On the topic of tolls, a proposal that didn’t make it out of the House, Wood said she believes they will be implemented at some point in the future.
“There was a plan last year for 13 gantries and a projected cost of 50 to 80 cents per gantry,” Wood said. “Conceivably, someone commuting from Bridgeport to Stamford would add about $250 to their monthly commute.”
Four state representatives were invited to attend a board of selectmen meeting Monday evening but only Wood attended.
State Sen. Bob Duff, D-25, had a scheduling conflict and State Rep. William Tong, D-147, and State Sen. Carlo Leone, D-27, did not respond to the invitation to attend the selectmen meeting Monday according to Stevenson.