Bipartisan Legislation Passed, But Tough Issues Ahead

By: State Re. Linda Dean Campbell – April, 2016

Recently, we saw the bipartisan approval by the Massachusetts House of a bill to fund local municipal road and bridge repair. Additionally, Governor Baker has requested more money for local bridge repair, which will require an additional appropriation. As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, I can tell you that while this spending certainly is necessary, it will require a reduction of other State spending to finance it as there is no federal support. Pulling monies from other appropriations will involve both considerable some homework and debate.

Governor Baker recently signed a measure we sent to him that repeals a 1989 law which automatically suspends drivers’ licenses for all drug offenses for five years, whether related to driving in any way or not. The revised law approved by Governor Baker would not apply to individuals engaged in trafficking drugs, or to those that are found driving while impaired by drugs. Individuals caught committing these crimes will still face appropriate consequences, both criminal and administrative, for their actions. 

The automatic suspensions for individuals who have been charged and convicted of non-violent drug crimes has made their rehabilitation, something already difficult to achieve, harder to accomplish. This past impediment to resumption of a normal life is very much against most everyone’s great desire that all of these individuals beat their addiction, get their lives back on track, and are both safe and productive members of our community.

I agree with the Governor and both my Democratic and Republican colleagues that this repeal increases the likelihood of positive end results, fewer repeat offenders, and less deaths from overdose.

The Legislature also passed unanimously a bill to fund improvements for municipal roads and bridges. It will bring approximately 1.18 million dollars to help repair potholes and repair streets in Methuen and over 1.5 million dollars to Haverhill. I see this not only as necessary for commuters who need the certainty that the road they take to work will not be damaged, but also as a public safety issue.

I applaud my colleagues for continuing to work together in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that improves the lives of families and individuals throughout the Merrimack Valley and the Commonwealth and I look forward to doing so as we continue to tackle tough issues that confront our state.

The current debates on-going regarding the expansion of Charter Schools and the legalization of marijuana are more challenging and I hope that you will contact me and offer your perspectives on both of these potential ballot questions.

Representative Campbell serves as Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and also on the Committee on Ways and Means. She can be reached at 617.722.2430/Linda.Campbell@MA or