AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine is hiring 50 public health nurses to help address disease outbreaks and the opioid crisis.

The Portland Press Herald reports a new law sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Brownie Carson is responsible for the hiring increase. Under the measure, Maine is required to have at least 50 public health nurses on staff.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage had opposed the effort as he sought to reform public health and welfare programs. Former state Department of Health and Human Services commissioner Mary Mayhew had supported LePage’s push.

DHHS commissioner Ricker Hamilton says the department is committed to increasing public health nurses in Maine. Hamilton says the nurses’ duties will expand to cover issues like elder and child abuse and the opioid crisis in addition.

So far, seven positions have been filled.

Information from: Portland Press Herald,