For the past six years State Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bensalem and the 18th Legislative District has been campaigning for the creation of a Cabinet level Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. DiGirolamo was the prime sponsor of the legislation known as ACT 50 of 2010, which was adopted almost unanimously by the legislature. Shortly before he left office, Governor Ed Rendell signed ACT 50 of 2010 into law.
This legislation is widely supported by the addiction community, treatment, and recovery organizations. Per the briefing document, “The purpose of the legislation is to consolidate, centralize, streamline and restore the drug and alcohol agency to high viability to address the overarching and costly impact of drug and alcohol abuse and untreated addiction in all of our communities around the state.” (1)
Despite being signed into law, the Department has yet to be established. On November 1, 2011, DiGirolamo called a public hearing to question state officials about the delay of the development of the Department. When questioned, Gov. Tom Corbett’s Budget Secretary, Charles Zogby, stated that Corbett has no intention of creating the department. Reasons cited included budgetary constraints and constituent’s disapproval of adding to the already bureaucratic nature of Pennsylvania state government.
The situation continues to develop on two fronts. The addiction community is anxiously awaiting the creation of this Department to streamline existing services. Professionals have been advocating for this Department for quite some time. This is now only half the battle as they now fight to understand why the Governor has chosen to ignore the law. This leads to the second impacted front, the fundamental understanding of the state system of government. State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny County, stated during the hearing testimony, “If we can pass an Act and the executive body can choose not to enact it, then I think that says something very significant about our system and how it works.”
(1) ACT 50 of 2010 Briefing Document , Drug & Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania. August 24, 2010
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To read more about this issue visit the following links:
Corbett, DiGirolamo Battle Over Drug Office (phillyburbs.com)