PLEASE READ AND GET INVOLVED! See below:
On February 24th, 2016 Bill HD4554 - An Act relative to benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics was filed by Representative Paul McMurtry in the Massachusetts State House. The bill received 47 co-sponsors during the seven day open period in which legislators can co-sponsor. This is an impressive and promising turnout.
The bill was assigned bill number H.4062, and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Because the bill was unseasonably filed, it does not have to be heard by the Joint Committee before this legislative session ends, but there is still a chance it could be heard before the July 2016 deadline. The committee will hear testimonies from experts in the field about why this bill is so important to public health and safety. At that point, the committee will decide whether the bill should pass, “go to study”, or be denied. If the bill “goes to study”, meaning that it will require more research before a decision is made, then the bill will be effectively “dead in the water” until next year.
The likely and hoped for outcome is that the Joint Committee will pass the bill, at which point it will go before the House and the Senate for debate, until it ends up on the floor of the House and Senate for a final vote.
What can you do to help?
If you live or have resident status in Massachusetts:
Please e-mail your personal story of benzodiazepine harm to the Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and send using this email address: email@example.com. Note: Please address the Joint Committee directly. Example:
Dear Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse,
Please refer to Bill Number H.4062 in the subject line or the body of your email. Make sure to include your full name and your town in Massachusetts.
Your personal story will be presented as evidence to the Joint Committee as they decide whether or not the bill moves forward. The sooner you can send your personal story, the better, since it is unclear when the committee will meet.
Important: Please send a copy of your email to your state senator and representatives.
If you live outside of Massachusetts, please follow the instructions above, and send your personal story of benzodiazepine harm to Chairs and Members of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse using the same email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Explain how this bill will affect your state/country. For example, if this bill passes in Massachusetts, you are hoping a similar bill will pass in your own state/country. Make sure to include the following information:
Your Full Name
Town and State (if you live within the US)
Country (if you live outside of the US)
Letting the Joint Committee and your senators and representatives know how benzodiazepines have harmed you or a loved one, and the bill’s importance for public health and safety, is crucial to getting the votes needed for Bill H.4062 to pass. Thank you for getting involved!