BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker will look back at some recent successes and lay out his priorities for the new year when he delivers his last state of the state address before seeking a second term in office.
The Republican told reporters that he’s planning to discuss the progress that the state has made in combatting the opioid overdose epidemic in the Tuesday speech.
The administration has pointed to a reduction in opioid deaths and in the number of opioid prescriptions as signs that efforts that Baker and state lawmakers have taken to stem the number of overdose deaths are showing results.
Baker said he’ll push lawmakers to approve a follow-up bill on the opioid crisis that would allow police officers and medical professionals to bring high-risk individuals to substance abuse treatment centers, even against their will, for up to 72 hours.
The bill would set credentialing standards for “recovery coaches” who help people to overcome addiction, allow all pharmacies to carry the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and make it easier to prescribe small amounts of opioid painkillers.
Baker also plans to talk about ongoing efforts to increase the state’s reliance on renewable energy and discuss his plan to create 135,000 new housing units in Massachusetts by 2025 in part by delivering more than $10 million in incentives, grant funding and technical assistance each year.
“I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the success we’ve had over the course of the past few years as a collective up here,” Baker said Monday after his weekly meeting with Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate.
Aides to Baker say he’ll also talk about new initiatives on climate change and the environment, offer more details on transportation plans for the state and renew his pledge to oppose new tax increases.
Baker, who has often found himself at odds on policy with members of the national Republican Party including President Donald Trump, said he had started planning for the shutdown of the federal government before a deal was reached Monday to keep the government running.
He said it’s important for state leaders to present a united front to the federal government on policies that directly affect the state.
“What happens at the federal level matters here in Massachusetts and it’s important as I said last year in my state-of-the-state for us to be united in our efforts to make sure we protect what happens here,” Baker said. “For example we spent a lot of time this past year working to preserve and protect the universal health care law that existed on the books here in Massachusetts.”
Baker is up for re-election. He faces at least three Democratic challengers: former Newton Mayor Setti Warren; environmental activist Robert Massie; and Jay Gonzalez, a top budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.
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