Month: January 2018

Senator Lesser, Rep. Ashe Meet with LG Polito, Local Officials in Hampden

HAMPDEN — On Tuesday, Senator Eric P. Lesser, Rep. Brian M. Ashe and town officials welcomed Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to Hampden for a roundtable discussion on the needs of the community.

“We had a productive meeting with Lt. Gov. Polito, and I am grateful that she came out to Western Mass to hear directly from local officials where the gaps are and how state and local government can work together to fill those gaps. We are all committed to making sure our communities in Western Mass are a top priority,” said Sen. Lesser.

“I want to thank Lt. Governor Polito for taking the time to speak with our Hampden officials today about their needs as a community.  This is a great example of how our government can and does work together — putting people first instead of politics,” said Rep. Ashe.

Photos below:

From left to right: Vincent Villamaino, Chairman, Hampden Board of Selectmen; Pam Courtney, Administrative Assistant, Hampden Board of Selectmen; Doug Boyd, Co-Chair of the Hampden Advisory Committee; Senator Eric P. Lesser; Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; State Rep. Brian Ashe; Rebecca Moriarty, Executive Director of the Hampden Senior Center; Robert Howarth, Hampden Town Moderator; Michael Knapik, Western Mass Regional Director, Office of Governor Charlie Baker.


Senator Lesser Receives Award for Leadership in Fighting the State’s Opioid Epidemic

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser has received a Special Recognition Award from the Massachusetts Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors for his leadership in fighting the state’s opioid epidemic.

The award was formally announced at the Association’s annual meeting on Friday, January 12 in Westborough.

“I am humbled to receive this award, and proud of the difference we have made in providing greater access to Narcan, which has saved hundreds of lives. But I am also very aware that we have much more to do,” Senator Lesser said. “We need to expand the number of treatment beds available,  invest in alternative pain treatments and ultimately, the pharmaceutical companies that knowingly marketed these life-threatening products need to be held accountable.”

Preliminary numbers for 2017 show that overdose deaths in Massachusetts dropped 10 percent last year. This was due in part to the wide availability of Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, and to the fact that Massachusetts was the first state to limit the number of opioid pills doctors can prescribe per prescription.

Senator Lesser could not attend the award ceremony because of a long-standing personal conflict. In lieu, Peter Crumb of Belchertown, a retired substance abuse counselor at Longmeadow High School and a board member of the Association, presented the award to Senator Lesser in his East Longmeadow office. The presentation was recorded in a video played at the ceremony in Westborough:

Watch the video here

“Since his election to the Massachusetts State Senate in 2014, Senator Eric Lesser has been an advocate for those who are fighting and recovering from addiction in the Commonwealth,” Crumb says in the video.

He highlighted Senator Lesser’s work to secure funding for Springfield’s drug court and increase the availability of Narcan, an opiate overdose-reversal drug.

Senator Lesser has been a leader in the fight against the opioid crisis. Most recently, he sponsored an amendment to the Senate’s healthcare reform package that included funding for research into medication-assisted treatment to explore alternative treatments for pain.

In January 2015, Senator Lesser authored legislation to set up the Massachusetts bulk purchasing program for Narcan, an opiate overdose-reversal drug.

Later this month, he will be visiting addiction treatment facilities and sitting down with high school students to discuss a bill he introduced that requires opioid addiction education in schools.


Senator Lesser Praises Youth Advocacy in Springfield City Council’s Vote to Raise the Age of Tobacco Sales to 21

SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, Senator Eric P. Lesser praised the efforts of Springfield’s young people in urging the city to raise the age of tobacco sales, saying “advocacy like this makes a difference.”

On Monday night, the Springfield City Council unanimously approved a city ordinance that will ban the sale of tobacco products to people under age 21 after months of lobbying by health advocates and many young activists from the city.

In October, Sen. Lesser met with students from the Mason Square Health Task Force who had come to the State House to advocate for raising the age of tobacco sales.

“For anyone doubting their ability to make a difference, take a look at these young people who raised awareness and got the word out about youth smoking. Thanks to their efforts, and a unanimous vote in the City Council, Springfield will now be raising the tobacco age from 18 to 21. I voted to raise the age statewide when it came up in the Senate last year, and am hopeful we can get another chance to do so this year. Advocacy like this makes a difference!” Sen. Lesser said.

Sen. Lesser is a longtime supporter of a bill introduced by Sen. Jason Lewis, An Act To Protect Youth from the Health Risks of Tobacco and Nicotine Addiction, which would raise the age for tobacco sales statewide to 21.