Senate Speaker Karen Spilka questions House deadlock on prescription drugs and mental health bills

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After House Speaker Ron Mariano expressed frustration with Senate Speaker Karen Spilka’s “stubborn reluctance” to call a Senate vote to legalize sports betting, the Senate’s top Democrat asked why the House had not taken up bills passed by the Senate to expand access to sports betting. mental health and reducing prescription drug costs.

Spilka said senators continue to be “everywhere” on the issue of legalized sports betting in Massachusetts, despite most neighboring states offering their residents the ability to bet on athletics.

“Curious to know why journalists and why people don’t ask, ‘What about mental health reform?’ Where is it? The Senate has done it twice, and everyone in Massachusetts desperately needs it and it’s not a dispute or a controversy,” Spilka said.

She continued, “What about the prescription drug reform we so desperately need? We need to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. I know I still sometimes hear from seniors and my coworkers hear that they are splitting some of their pills to make ends meet because they can’t afford to pay for their entire prescription. We must also do something about these problems. »

Spilka did not rule out a Senate vote on sports betting this session, but said she would like to have “some kind of consensus” among Senate Democrats before that happens.

Questions lingered on the topic of how to approach college sports betting, who would get betting licenses and other issues.

Mariano, during an appearance on Bloomberg Baystate Business on Wednesday, said he believed the House had come up with a good plan, but was willing to negotiate.

“But it takes two people to negotiate,” the Democrat from Quincy said.

Spilka turned it against the House.

“I’m not saying we’re not going to keep watching sports betting, but those are two issues that immediately come to mind,” Spilka said of mental health care and prescription drug costs. “It should also be a priority for the Legislative Assembly.”

Related content:

  • Massachusetts gaming regulators monitor sports betting legislation
  • Massachusetts lawmakers unveil plan to tackle emergency room boarding and bolster mental health care
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