Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Legislature to block Christie’s addiction services reorganization

Lawmakers listen to testimony at a hearing about reorganizing the state's oversight of mental health and addiction services on July 25, 2017. (Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ)
Lawmakers listen to testimony at a hearing about reorganizing the state’s oversight of mental health and addiction services on July 25, 2017. (Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ)

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to reorganize how the state oversees opioid treatment efforts is apparently going to be blocked by the Legislature.

The Assembly voted last week to block the reorganization, which would transfer the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. Now a key senator says the Senate will do the same before an Aug. 28 deadline.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, said he has concerns about the change because it would separate services from related efforts such as Medicaid and programs for people with developmental disabilities.

“It would be very difficult, and it would cause some structural issues and provider issues. And they’ve all raised concerns about this reorganization plan,” Vitale said.

“And in addition, there was never a strategic plan developed or submitted to the Legislature,” he said.

Pushback against Christie plan to reorganize addiction and mental health care

Vitale’s committee and the Assembly Human Services Committee held a hearing about the proposal last month. The Assembly then voted to reject the reorganization on July 31, a 42-25 vote that was nearly entirely along party lines.

There had been no word whether the Senate would go along, until Vitale announced Wednesday that Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, had agreed to schedule a voting session to take up legislation to block the move.

Also on Vitale’s move is the timing. He said the changes wouldn’t start to become operational until early winter, when Christie’s term ends and he and his Cabinet leave office. Vitale said reshuffling of state operations have taken up to two years to work through in the past.

“It’s literally thousands of employees, and it takes time to think about how to do this – not just why, but how to do it, how to implement it,” Vitale said.

“With an election coming up in November and a new governor and a transition team being in place, shortly thereafter, I think this is an issue that should be left for them,” he said.

A date for the voting session has not yet been determined, Vitale said.

Summer voting sessions are rare, especially in election years, so it can be challenging to find a date on short notice when enough senators are available and not on vacation or working – especially for a vote that might not get bipartisan support.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.

Best of NJ101.5

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://nj1015.com using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for New Jersey Insiders quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive New Jersey Insiders contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.