Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a flurry of bills into law including one designed to toughen Massachusetts' response to the state's ongoing substance abuse problem.

 

The new law strengthens the state's Prescription Monitoring Program _ designed to discourage the abuse of prescription drugs _ and requires insurance carriers cover abuse deterrent drugs.

 

In March, Patrick declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts in response to what he called the state's growing epidemic of heroin overdoses and opioid addiction.

 

Patrick was also signed into law a bill intended to help the state pay for information technology equipment.

 

Early Wednesday, Patrick signed two additional bills into law.

 

One will help modernize the operations and financial management of local housing authorities. The other will streamline the licensing process for thousands of professional licensees across Massachusetts.