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Paying For Kids' Insurance, Rosenberg's Path, Supervised Injections: The Week Ahead On Beacon Hill

Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.
Antonio Caban
/
State House News Service
Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.

By the end of this week, the federal government will either shut down, or pass another spending extension in order to keep government running. 

To find out the ramifications that federal cash has in Massachusetts, we turn to State House News Service reporter Katie Lannan. She said one big thing state officials have been watching -- funding for CHIP, the children's health insurance program.

Katie Lannan, State House News Service: The last short-term budget the one that expires this Friday extended funding for it for Massachusetts, so that we are all set through March. It had been anticipated to run out in mid-January, but a lot of people are hoping for a longer-term solution that erases all questions and lets these families know the status of their ability to pay for their children’s care.

Late last week Senator Stan Rosenberg told the Boston Globe of his separation from his husband Brian Hefner. A month earlier he had stepped away as Senate president while an independent investigation of sexual assault allegations were made against his husband of a year. And Rosenberg has long talked about a firewall existing between himself and Hefner. So will the announcement of the couple's separation be massive enough for him to try to step back into a Senate presidency perhaps, or does he need more of a true legal separation of sorts in the eyes of other senators?

Well, I think a lot of that is going to depend on what exactly this ongoing investigation by outside attorneys determines in regards to what Senator Rosenberg's role might have been, what he knew -- as it relates to the allegations against his husband, Bryon Hefner. He has of course, said Bryon had no influence over Senate matters and should not have implied that he did. That's part of what the investigation will be looking into. And how that shakes out will really, you know, have a lot to say about what Senator Rosenberg's path moving forward is.

You know, just before Rosenberg made that announcement about his marriage status, MassInc Polling Group and WBUR released a poll that determined that overall 21 percent of people at work in Massachusetts have had that kind of #MeToo moment. Did those poll numbers make any ripples at the Statehouse, amid the sexual harassment investigations?

You know, its been an ongoing discussion, those numbers specifically have not been [the focus], at least not publicly, [although] I'm sure people are aware of them. People are kind of aware of the tide of women saying they've had these experiences in the workplace. But it part of the ongoing focus in the Statehouse, we have a review in each chamber of sexual harassment policies. In the House, they've got their own counsel looking at it. And over in the Senate, there's a committee of legislators who are planning to make recommendations for how they can kind of heighten their efforts to prevent harassment.

Last week, Health and Human Services chief Marylou Sudders said in an interview on WGBH that she is "open to understanding more about" supervised injection sites for drug users, but that federal law would pose a challenge to launching any in the state. With an opioid crisis ongoing in Massachusetts, will we be hearing more from lawmakers who see safe injection sites as a useful tool for the Commonwealth, despite federal regulations?

Well, interestingly, I think that's an issue we're going to hear a little bit more about this week. The governor last fall filed another bill intended to address opioid addiction and help people get treatment. And at a hearing that's coming up on Tuesday, several advocates for supervised injection sites plan to ask that lawmakers find a way to work those into the bill. Of course, Secretary Sudders says she wants to kind of find out more. She wants to go to Vancouver and see one [supervised injection site] for herself. She did point out that it is completely illegal under federal law and it'd be hard to imagine how they could get around that to launch a program like that here.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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