By Bob Katzen

Friday, January 20 at 5 p.m. was the “soft deadline” for legislation to be filed for consideration by the Legislature during the 2023-2024 legislative session. However, under House and Senate rules, bills filed after January 20 can still be admitted to the Legislature following the deadline if the Legislature agrees to admit it by a four-fifths vote of the members of the branch where the bill is introduced. Each legislative session, hundreds of bills are admitted as late-filed bill

CONFIDENTIALITY OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES (S 2684) – Before the 2022 session ended on January 3, the House approved and sent to the Senate legislation expanding the 2019 law that ensures confidentiality for first responders, including an active or retired law enforcement officer, police officer, state police trooper, sheriff or deputy sheriff, firefighter and emergency medical personnel, who seek mental health services from a peer counselor.

The bill, which would expand the current law to include state or municipal police criminalists, crime scene personnel, police dispatchers and 911 operators, died in the Senate.

“The … committee supported [the bill],” said Rep. Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield), the chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security which handled the proposal. “It is good policy. The folks serving our community should not worry about privacy issues or unfounded stigmatization for seeking mental health treatment. We owe them any support we can afford them—including the assurance of confidentiality when they seek help.”

Rep. Ed Coppinger (D-Boston), the sponsor of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call asking why he filed the bill, how he feels about its death in the Senate and whether he will refile it for the 2023-2024 session.

OVERDOSES AND NALOXONE (S 3182) – Before the 2022 session ended, the Senate approved and sent to the House a bill designed to increase access to and education about the drug overdose-reversal medication Naloxone, or a similar medication.

The measure would require doctors and other medical professionals who prescribe an opioid to a patient to also prescribe Naloxone or a similar medication under certain circumstances.

The bill died in the House.

“We must do all we can to prevent overdoses in the ongoing opioid epidemic,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), the sponsor of the bill. “This law would help improve education of and access to Naloxone, which in turn can save lives in emergency situations. I look forward to re-filing this bill and working with my colleagues to get it signed into law.”

SEABEES DAY (S 3159) – Before the 2022 session ended, the House and Senate approved and former-Gov. Baker signed into law a bill designating March 5 as United States Navy Seabees Day in recognition of the birthday of the United States Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the Navy Seabees, formed on March 5, 1942.

Supporters said the Seabees were created for a dual mission to build and to fight in support of combat operations, humanitarian outreach and nation-building.

Sen. Mike Rush (D-Boston), the sponsor of the measure did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on the signing of the bill and why he filed it.

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