WORCESTER, MA — With the first of the FY19 Executive Office budget hearings beginning, Representative Miceli and his colleagues on the Committee for Ways and Means kicked off the FY19 budget review of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security with a packed room in Worcester. Secretary Daniel Bennett was the first to testify giving an update on the overall status of the department, including accomplishments achieved during the FY18 budget year, as well as ambitions and goals for the upcoming year. Following Secretary Bennett, other testifying officials included DA Marion Ryan, the office of the State Police, National Guard, and more.
“I was looking forward to discussing the rapid push regarding marijuana cafes with Secretary Bennett” said Representative Miceli. “They are moving too fast, and there aren’t any checks and balances that will ensure patrons leaving them are sober and able to get home safely like we have available with regular bars, and there hasn’t been any discussion about the liability and security regarding these sorts of establishments.”
When asked by Representative Miceli on the status of these proposed cafes, Secretary Bennett echoed the Representatives concerns, and reiterated that both Governor Baker and Speaker Robert DeLeo shared the same reservations. “We do not have a way to check the sobriety of a driver, beyond an experimental test that involves drawing blood” said Secretary Bennett, adding that it is also difficult for the “bartenders” in such cafes to gauge when to “cut-off” any further sale of recreational marijuana to a patron.
Secretary Bennett was also questioned by Representative Miceli and the panel over additional concerns, such as protecting citizens from cyber-warfare, preventative measures against terrorism and human trafficking, and preventing further drug trafficking into the state. Secretary Bennett also reported updates on alleviating a back-log of local police officer training, and heavy recruiting for the state police to provide better service across Massachusetts.
In addition to Secretary Bennett, Representative Miceli also questioned a panel of the District Attorney’s from across the Commonwealth. “I was especially interested in speaking with the DA’s in regards to criminal activity with those who may be mentally unstable. A number of them mentioned outreach programs they instituted, and community-police programs designed to foster trust and prevent tragedies from occurring. I came away impressed with what they’ve done, and a number of ways we can expand such operations” said Representative Miceli. He added “It was great to see Marion Ryan again, and hear about the great work she has done regarding opioid’s in our area, her plans going forward, and the status of her office.”
Future Ways and Means hearings will continue to solicit testimony from additional executive agencies, including the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Public Health, and the Department of Mental Health. For those wishing to comment on the budget process the Ways and Means committee will hold a meeting open to all in March, or they may reach out directly to Representative Miceli’s office at 617-722-2305.
(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Jim Miceli’s Office.)
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