The Legislature on July 16 passed and sent to the governor legislation to help combat mosquito-borne diseases.

The House, Senate and Joint Committee on Public Health made significant changes to a bill that had been filed by Gov. Charlie Baker in April, adding treatment notice requirements, creating opt-out processes, and increasing transparency about the actions of the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board.

The bill would also create a task force to study the Commonwealth’s mosquito control process and recommend reforms.

Public health officials are expecting an active eastern equine encephalitis season this year. Last year, there were 12 human cases of the mosquito-borne virus and six deaths.

In his filing letter, Gov. Baker said, “This legislation would empower the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (“SRB”) to engage in mosquito control activities across the Commonwealth, including in areas where there is no legislative authority to take action today, when the Commissioner of Public Health determines that an elevated risk of arbovirus exists.”

The MMA had opposed the bill in testimony submitted on May 11, but the changes sought by the MMA were ultimately made during the legislative process.

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