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Newsletter of the Needham Rotary Club for October 19th, 2021
Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Activities:
  • Salvation Army Bell-Ringing on December 4th from 8am-5pm (watch for a signup sheet with greater detail).
Our Speaker: State Representative Denise Garlick
Mrs. Garlick (see her photo above) represents the 13th Norfolk District, including: Needham, Dover and part of Medfield. She is a Registered Nurse, and she lives in Needham. Before her election to this role, she served the Town of Needham on the Board of Health and as a Select-person. She listed three key points where she uses her skill and energy as our representative to address critical needs of our community in this moment:
  1. she is the Chairperson of the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading (HCB3R);
  2.  she is a member of the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council (ORRFAC);
  3. she is the Chairperson of the new, Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (PCSPD).
In her role as Chairperson of HCB3R, every bill that goes to the floor of the House for a vote is first scrutinized by her committee for potential conflicts with existing laws and the state Constitution. Roughly 6700 new bills will be originated by our state representatives this session. Of these, roughly 900 will make it through her committee: with about 500 addressing specific local needs and 400 "real content" bills addressing new issues that arise. An ideal position from which to help her constituents.
As a member of the ORRFAC, she advises on the distribution of funds from a trust allocated to Massachusetts to settle lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Massachusetts is expected to receive about $500mm from the $26B settlement with Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson and Johnson. This is in addition to about $90mm that our state will receive from the settlement with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin. The trust fund is dedicated to prevention, treatment and reduction of the damage caused by opioid addiction. Some ideas discussed by the Council: bringing mobile treatment in vans to drug users, more clinics, housing and job training for people in treatment, more multilingual assistance, and more prevention education.
As Chairperson of the new PCSPD, the emphasis is on finding employment for persons with disabilities. The Commission recommended and Governor Baker earlier this year signed into law tax incentives for companies to employ disabled persons. Employers who hire disabled workers can claim a tax credit of 30% of a worker's wages up to $5000 in the first year and $2000 per year thereafter.
The discussion during the "Question and Answer" period was informative. In response to a question about the funding of programs that address how the police handle mentally ill and addicted people in crisis, Mrs Garlick responded that police departments in Massachusetts have the highest participation in the International Association of Chiefs of Police "One Mind" program. This program advocates four strategies to improve the police response to individuals in crisis:
  1. local police should establish a partnership with community mental health organizations;
  2. local police should develop and implement a model policy addressing the police response to persons affected by mental illness;
  3. local police should train and certify 100% of sworn officers in Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety;
  4. local police should provide Crisis Intervention Team Training to a minimum of 20% of sworn officers.
She elaborated that there is intense scrutiny on supplementing police and fire department budgets to add to our ability to respond to mental health crises while protecting the public from potential violence.
Mrs Garlick offered interesting insights on the current environment of "toxic discourse" afflicting local governments, who are attempting to ameliorate the Covid19 pandemic using mask and vaccine mandates. Some people have vehemently objected that these rules are infringing on their personal freedoms. She commented: "People are forming opinions about each other without ever talking in person. Adults have forgotten what we teach our children about how to get along with each other." She reminded us that we are all neighbors, each with a mutual interest in the success and happiness of the other.
To contact Mrs Garlick via email: Denise.Garlick@mahouse.gov.
Our Next Meeting: Tuesday October 26th at noon. Our Speaker will be: Carol Toomey, District 7910, she'll address the Installation of the Board and Polio Plus.