03.07.14

Leahy Announces Witnesses For March 17 U.S. Senate Field Hearing In Rutland On Vermont’s Battle Against Heroin And Opioid Addiction

. . . Also Launches Hearing Record Web Address For Vermonters To Submit Views And Suggestions

Senator Patrick Leahy on Friday announced the witnesses who will testify at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s field hearing, in Rutland on March 17, on “Community Solutions To Breaking The Cycle Of Heroin And Opioid Addiction.”

Leahy, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, released this list of witnesses for the rare field hearing: Tristram Coffin, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont; Chief James Baker of the Rutland City Police Department; Dr. Harry Chen, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Health; Mary Alice McKenzie, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Burlington; and Colonel Tom L'Esperance, Director of the Vermont State Police.

The Judiciary Committee effort will augment Vermont’s heightened mission, announced by Governor Peter Shumlin, to counter the rise of heroin and opioid addiction in the state.  The hearing will convene at 1 p.m. on March 17 in the Franklin Conference Center at the Howe Center, 1 Scale Ave., in Rutland.

Leahy said, “Vermonters are actively engaged in searching for solutions to heroin and opioid addiction.  No community anywhere is more enlisted and united than Rutland is in tackling these challenges.  We are confronting a localized problem with regional echoes and national implications.  Some of what we face is similar to the addiction outbreaks in large cities, and other aspects are unique to rural areas.  This hearing is part of the continuing process of examining facts and distilling and refining solutions.  Other communities and states can learn from us, and we can learn from their experiences.”

Leahy also announced an email address that has been set up by the Judiciary Committee for statements from Vermonters and others, for the hearing record.  Vermonters are invited to submit written suggestions, observations and statements before and soon after the hearing.  Statements must be submitted by March 21, and are limited to 10 pages.  The email address for submitting statements for the hearing is:  Opioid_Hearing@judiciary-dem.senate.gov

Leahy has held three previous Judiciary Committee field hearings in Vermont on drug abuse and its related problems in rural America, in St. Albans, Barre and Rutland.  The hearings focused in part on the successes of the Vermont Drug Task Force – an interagency federal-state-local partnership – for which Leahy secured federal funds to support for more than a decade.  Leahy also applied the findings of those hearings in his subsequent work on reentry issues and drug treatment programs through his Second Chance Act, in his support for drug courts, and in other ways.


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