Hot topic bills remain on the table as Mass. formal legislation session wraps up

Hot topic bills remain on the table as Mass. formal legislation session wraps up
Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 11:28 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -We are just hours away from the end of the Commonwealth’s final formal legislative session of the year. Several hot-topic bills remain on the table.

The clock is ticking, but state leaders said that they are continuing until the end to get those bills passed to benefit residents across the state including here in western Mass.

“It’s been a busy year, a busy, session and I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” said Representative Orlando Ramos.

Sunday was the final day of the formal legislation session in Massachusetts and although local leaders say a lot has been accomplished, there is still more to do as the time in session dwindles

There are several bills left on the itinerary, including sports betting, mental health, and an economic development bill.

We spoke to state leaders to find out more about the importance of these bills.

Officials in both the House and Senate said that the mental health bill would provide much-needed mental health resources across the commonwealth.

State Senator John Velis added that the bill would require insurance companies to cover an annual mental health screening.

“I just don’t see how we don’t do that we got a mental health crisis in this nation right now it’s a crisis that long predated COVID certainly exacerbated by COVID,” explained State Senator John Velis.

Representative Jake Oliveira explained it will also help provide the tools needed for mental health treatment.

“Growing the pipeline of social workers clinicians mental health workers as well but also tackling that lack of mental health beds out here in western Mass.,” Olivera said.

As for sports betting, Representative Orlando Ramos said that the differences between proposals in the House and Senate are being ironed out and he hopes a compromise is made.

If it is passed, he wants to include an amendment that would allow local businesses to have a seat at the table.

“It is important for the smaller shops otherwise this big industry is gonna be monopolized by the casinos and the mobile apps and the smaller shops are not going to have a chance to capitalize on this new industry,” Ramos explained.

As for the economic development bill, State Senator John Velis told Western Mass News he will be watching it with close eyes, as Governor Baker announced a multi-billion dollar tax rebate last week that could provide widespread relief for taxpayers last week.

“I think that’s a really important thing, right now I’ve said it one million times before, and I’ll continue to say it, we have the tax revenue people are hurting right now with inflation and grocery stores at the gas pump everywhere,” Velis said.

Leaders said they hope to iron out these differences before the session officially comes to a close.

Officials said the legislative session could end as early as Sunday night, but as late as Monday as they will be working into the late hours of the evening. Western Mass News will continue to follow the session’s developments and will bring you the latest information on air and online.