By State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – July, 2022
Soldiers’ Home Settlement: The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a funding bill containing $56 million to settle the lawsuit brought forth by families of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home following the tragic COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020. This funding will go directly to Veterans impacted and the families of those we lost – while it cannot undo the pain endured by so many, and is not nearly enough, it is a step toward accountability.
Comprehensive legislation to reform governance and oversight of the Soldiers’ Homes is in the final stages and is expected to come for a final vote by the end of July.
Major Transportation Investments: The Massachusetts House has passed an $11 billion borrowing bill to make major investments in our transportation infrastructure. This bill includes $400 million for safety reforms within the MBTA system, in line with the recent federal investigation. It also includes $250 million to create an East-West high-speed railway – a new rail line that will have incredible benefits for our economy, job opportunities, and affordable housing by connecting the western and eastern halves of our state.
Also included in the bill is $200 million for projects to reduce transportation emissions, millions of dollars to electrify our trains, over $100 million to pave roadways, $20 million for cities and towns to create “Complete Streets” (which accommodate cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians), and more. These investments will have a tangible impact on the transportation systems we all use every day.
Expanding Access to Mental Health Care: The Massachusetts House has passed critical legislation to broadly address mental health in our Commonwealth – a crisis that urgently demands action. One of the biggest issues is access to care – wait times for appointments are far too long, mental health providers are in short supply, and insurance coverage is often minimal.
This legislation touches upon many aspects of mental health care to improve access – it will expand school mental health services, grow our mental health workforce, reduce emergency room boarding, require health insurers to cover an annual mental health wellness exam much like a physical exam, address disparities in mental health care, and much more. This legislation is needed now more than ever, and I am grateful to the many advocates and organizations who have worked so hard to move this legislation forward!
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature. She serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced IT, the Internet and Cybersecurity. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2676. ◊