After an alarming new report highlighted a crisis already well-known to state and law enforcement officials, victims, and their families, Senator Reed and Governor Gina Raimondo convened a roundtable meeting with state health officials and Rhode Island State Police Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell to discuss the growing epidemic of drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island, and talk about what can be done about it.
The Trust for America’s Health, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, issued their report, “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report,” in June 2015, using a three-year average of federal injury data. The report found that Rhode Island has the 7th-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation, exceeding the cause-of-death rates for car accidents, murder, and suicide. Rhode Island’s overdose deaths are the highest in New England, at a rate of 19.4 per 100,000 people. The national average is 13.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
Reed and Raimondo gathered health officials including Maria Montanaro, Director of the state Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, together with State Police Colonel O’Donnell to discuss what state offices together with law enforcement are doing to cope with this overdose crisis. The group also discussed how prevention and education efforts, as well as addressing the root causes of addiction, can help alleviate the epidemic.
Following the meeting, Senator Reed flew to Washington to introduce his Overdose Prevention Act, aimed at saving lives by expanding access to the drug overdose antidote naloxone, and improving prevention programs and first responder training.
Senator Reed joined Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit and Colonel Christopher Barron of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers together with federal, state, and local officials at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Ten Mile River Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project. The project restores river herring to the Ten Mile River watershed and provides river connectivity for other resident fish species.
The event took place at the Hunt’s Mill Dam historic site in East Providence, one of the three dams where fish ladders were constructed to allow the passage of river herring along the Ten Mile River. The 56 square-mile Ten Mile River watershed originates in Massachusetts, crosses into Rhode Island, flows through East Providence, and then enters the Seekonk River (one of the headwaters of Narragansett Bay) at Omega Pond Dam.
The project was constructed in two phases. Construction of fish passages at Turner Reservoir and Hunt’s Mill Dams began in unison and finished in September 2012. The Omega Pond Dam started at a later date and was completed in April 2015.
"This is a real environmental and engineering success story. I am pleased to have secured federal funds to restore the health of the Ten Mile River watershed and ensure migratory fish can once again freely swim up and down the river. After more than a decade of work, the successful completion of this project is a testament to the resilience of the many volunteers, partners, and local leaders who have been engaged along the way," said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped secure federal funding for the project.
Senator Reed and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a bipartisan group of Senators to Asia to meet with leaders in Vietnam and Singapore to discuss U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
While in Hanoi, Senator McCain offered a tour of the spot where he landed after being shot down during the Vietnam War. The Senators also visited the former Hoa Lo Prison where Chairman McCain and his fellow POWs were held captive during the war.
Next the group, including Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), headed to the 2015 Asia Security Summit in Singapore. Singapore is smaller than Rhode Island, but has the second busiest port in the world. In 2014, Singapore ranked as Rhode Island’s 9th largest customer in terms of exports from the state and Senator Reed is working to further expand trade opportunities for Rhode Island businesses.
Reed, Senate Democrats from Amtrak's Northeast Corridor Call for Increased Amtrak Funding, Investment in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure
Senator Reed was joined by Senate Democrats representing states along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at a press conference urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund Amtrak’s funding request in the upcoming Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill.
The Senators also unveiled a new report from the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center detailing all the unfunded and underfunded safety and infrastructure projects along the Northeast Corridor that desperately need this funding.
For years, Amtrak has been underfunded, causing Amtrak officials to have to choose between safety and infrastructure upgrades and contributing to a $21 billion backlog. Reed, the Ranking Member on the THUD subcommittee, was joined by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in making the announcement.
Reed, RI Community Food Bank, USDA & RI Division of Elderly Affairs Launch New Food Assistance Program for Seniors
Senator Reed joined representatives from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the USDA, and the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs to launch a new senior nutrition initiative in the state, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
Starting this summer, eligible Rhode Island seniors in need will be able to receive free, bulk boxes of healthy food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare and enjoy at home. The packages of nutritious food, meant to help seniors supplement their diet, will be distributed thanks to a new federal-state partnership that was made possible by U.S. Senator Jack Reed and is being administered by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in conjunction with the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs.
The partnership between USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the RI Division of Elderly Affairs, and the Food Bank -- made possible through a legislative boost from Senator Reed -- will help the Food Bank distribute boxes of nutritious USDA commodities on a monthly basis to seniors in need as part of the federally-funded CSFP, which provides monthly food assistance specifically targeted to low-income seniors.
Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked at the federal level to successfully insert language into the Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill making it possible for Rhode Island to start participating in CSFP, along with six other states that did not have the program. Thanks to Senator Reed’s efforts, the state will receive USDA commodities to distribute directly to Rhode Island seniors and over $100,000 in federal funding to help administer the program.
Reed & U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officials Preview Arrival Experience for International Travelers at T.F. Green
With regularly scheduled commercial international flights set to land in Rhode Island next month, U.S. Senator Jack Reed met with airport and federal officials to ensure T.F. Green Airport (PVD) is ready to efficiently welcome the influx of international travelers.
In a continuous effort to improve airport facilities, Senator Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has led efforts and worked with the delegation, state officials, and the Obama Administration to help direct an estimated $110 million in federal aviation funds to help upgrade T.F. Green Airport.
Starting June 2, Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde (TACV) will begin service two times a week, offering flights from Providence to the city of Praia on the island of Santiago. And beginning June 18, Condor Airlines will start regularly-scheduled seasonal service from Providence to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).
When regular international service begins, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will examine and inspect all passengers and their baggage arriving into the United States. International travelers will be escorted directly to the Federal Inspections Station, where they will pass a new blue and white sign that reads, “Welcome to the United States.”
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