Senator Collins Champions Provisions to Help Combat Maine’s Opioid Epidemic

The bill also provides support for Maine’s police departments, invests in school violence and domestic violence prevention programs, and cracks down on illegal robocalls

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that the full committee advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill by a vote of 31-0.  The legislation includes provisions championed by Senator Collins to combat Maine’s opioid epidemic and support vital programs for Maine’s police departments and victims of crimes.

 

“This bill provides increased investments to law enforcement at all levels and makes significant progress in our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is harming families and communities across the country,” said Senator Collins.  “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought to include these provisions, and I am pleased that they were incorporated in the final bill.”

 

Provisions championed by Senator Collins to benefit Maine include:

 

·         Fighting Heroin and Opioid Abuse:  The bill includes $505 million in Department of Justice grant funding to address the opioid crisis, which is $37 million more than last year’s funding level.  Of this total, the bill includes $378 million for state and local law enforcement assistance grants authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).  The bill includes $80 million for Drug Treatment Courts, $23 million for Veterans Treatment Courts, $31 million for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and $180 million for the Comprehensive Opioid Stimulant Substance Abuse Program.

 

·         Regional Information Sharing System (RISS): The bill includes $38 million for RISS, which supports cooperative efforts to fight crime at all levels and has been extremely useful to Maine’s rural communities. This is an increase of $1 million above last year’s funding level.

 

·         Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS):  The bill includes $335 million for COPS, which is $31.5 million more than last year’s funding level.  The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Within COPS, the bill includes $245 million for COPS Hiring Grants and $35 million for the Anti-Heroin Task Force.  Among the Maine programs that received COPS funding in 2017, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was one of only eight grantees to receive funding through the Anti-Heroin Task Force, receiving $525,569. Additionally, Maine received $500,000 in 2017 through the COPS Hiring Program to hire additional police officers. 

 

·         Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program: The bill includes $545 million for Byrne JAG, which is $121.5 million more than last year’s funding level.  Of this total, the bill provides $2 million for the John R. Justice (JRJ) Grant Program, a student loan repayment assistance program for local, state, and federal public defenders and prosecutors who commit to extended service in those positions.

 

·         Office on Violence Against Women (OVW): The bill includes $500 million for the OVW, which is $2.5 million more than the FY 2019 level.  OVW administers critical grant funding for programs that assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  Within OVW, the bill includes $215 million for STOP grants, $37.5 million for Sexual Assault Services, $43.5 million for Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Enforcement, and $45.5 million for Legal Assistance to Victims.

 

·         Victims of Human Trafficking: The bill includes $8 million for victims of trafficking programs available through the Office of Justice Programs.

 

·         STOP School Violence Act: The bill includes $100 million for the STOP School Violence Act.  Of this total, $67 million is for evidence-based school safety programs administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and $33 million is for programs administered through COPS.  Senator Collins is a cosponsor of the STOP School Violence Act, which became law in 2018. Since its enactment, Maine has received more than $600,000 through this program.

 

·         Robocalls: The bill enforces fines for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to penalize illegal robocallers.