By Seth Daniel
State Rep. Dan Ryan is ready to embark on a new legislative year, and this week, he said he believes it will be even busier than 2017 as his committee takes up new legislation on the opiate epidemic.
Ryan is Vice Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and he predicted that reviewing Gov. Charlie Baker’s new CARE Act proposal will take up a great deal of his time this year.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “However, this assignment will take up a majority my legislative work. We just received Governor Baker’s Opioid Prevention and Substance Abuse Recovery Bill toward the end this year. This will be the logical next step on improving upon the bi-partisan opioid legislation passed two years ago. We are working on it in the committee now and we will be scheduling a hearing in January or February.”
That committee will also be looking at how mental health affects incarceration rates, he said, during the coming year.
“Mental Health also plays a major role in incarceration and recidivism,” he said. “Our committee has been working hard with Police Chiefs, Department of Public Health and other front line professionals to ensure that our first responders and emergency rooms have the training and tools they need when responding to calls that may involve individuals with mental health needs.”
Beyond that committee, Rep. Ryan said he will be spending a great deal of time working on the Transportation Committee business. One of the key pieces for him is to make the state think harder about water transportation throughout his district.
“On the Transportation Committee we are aggressively pushing MassDOT to think out sideof the box of water transportation,” he said. “With many of the bridges around the district going under much-needed repair, there is a real opportunity to try some new ferry routes. This can help alleviate traffic, while also testing some new ideas during a finite period of time.”
That committee will also continue pushing back on Gov. Baker’s plans for privatization at the MBTA. While they did vote in 2015 to give the governor some flexibility in brining some sanity and fiscal control to the MBTA, there have been some changes under that umbrella that weren’t well received.
“There have been some moderate successes, but there has also been some eye-brow raisers,” he said. “We don’t have to look any further than the multiple Keolis stories to affirm that some industries, like public transportation, are inherently public and are just failures as for-profit ventures.”
Finally, Ryan said he will focus on the local transportation project in this district – such as Rutherford Avenue and the North Washington Street Bridge in Charlestown, and the rehabilitation of the Mystic/Tobin Bridge and the Chelsea Viaducts in Chelsea – to make sure they are planned well.
“For the most part though, I will spend more time over the next year working with our partners at the city, state and federal levels to ensure that our upcoming transportation projects are done well and with as little disruption to our daily lives as possible,” he said.