Wednesday, 03 25, 2015
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Less than twelve hours after it passed the General Assembly, Governor Steve Beshear signed the bipartisan anti-heroin bill into law before a crowded room full of legislators, law enforcement officials and health advocates.
“It’s a new day in the fight against heroin in our Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “This bill is a balanced, muscular approach designed to impact users, sellers, law enforcement and public health. Heroin’s terrifying grip on our friends, our families and our communities is finally coming to an end.”
Senate Bill 192 offers multiple tactics to reduce the trafficking and abuse of heroin. Traffickers will face stiffer penalties, particularly if heroin is transported across state lines. More money is allocated for addiction treatment. A ‘Good Samaritan’ provision gives users legal immunity if they report an overdose victim. The bill also authorizes more use of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, and allows communities the option of setting up needle exchanges.
Throughout his administration, Gov. Beshear has worked with law enforcement and health advocates to enhance treatment options for heroin users. The Affordable Care Act requires that new health insurance policies provide adequate coverage for mental health, which includes substance abuse treatment. The Governor and Attorney General Jack Conway announced an expansion of treatment that will be paid for thanks to a large pharmaceutical settlement – an expansion that will particularly impact juvenile addicts.
“Passage of this bill has been my top priority this legislative session. I am heartened to know that members of the Kentucky General Assembly put politics aside, did their jobs, and passed meaningful heroin legislation in the waning hours of the 2015 General Assembly,” said General Conway. “The bill includes provisions that are important to law enforcement and to me: increasing penalties for large volume traffickers, expanding access to treatment, and getting heroin overdose reversal kits into the hands of our first responders. I know this legislation will save lives, and I’m proud of leaders on both sides of the aisle for putting people over politics in trying to address the resurgence of heroin in Kentucky.”
The bill also authorizes the Department of Corrections to provide opiod antagonists to inmates to prevent a relapse of their addiction; provides immunity from certain drug charges for individuals who seek emergency help for overdose victims, and stay with that person until that help arrives; helps alleviate risk of needle sticks to law enforcement officers; and invests in a vast array of substance abuse and criminal justice programs.
“The Senate Majority has led the push for anti-heroin legislation for the last three years and ultimately we were pleased with the compromise,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “This balanced bill will increase penalties for traffickers, show compassion for addicts and hopefully begin to save lives through the Good Samaritan provision. SB 192 was the result of a tremendous amount of time and input from various stakeholders throughout Kentucky and we are thankful to everyone who assisted in its passage.”
“We in the General Assembly told the people of Kentucky that we would come up with legislation that would have a positive impact on the heroin epidemic, and this law is proof that we kept our word,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “It will give law enforcement and the healthcare community the tools they need to crack down on the traffickers while helping addicts escape this deadly cycle.”
"A successful effort to combat the heroin epidemic must include greater access to substance abuse treatment and tougher penalties for those commercial traffickers that are causing the damage,” said Sen. Whitney Westerfield. “Senate Bill 192 accomplishes both. I'm thankful for the hard work by so many to reach a compromise for the good of those Kentuckians fighting addiction and fighting for public safety."
“Our work addressing Kentucky’s heroin crisis honors the families across the state who have been caught in the iron grip of addiction,” said Rep. John Tilley. “These people are our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, and their stories of pain and loss showed just how devastating this scourge has been. All of those who came together to help write this bill -- from legislators who lost family members to this poison to the various stakeholders -- deserve a tremendous amount of credit. This law will increase access to treatment and life-saving medication, will do more to help addicted mothers and their drug-dependent children, and will help reduce blood-borne diseases resulting from dirty needles. This legislation, simply put, will save lives."
Because SB192 contained an emergency clause, the law takes effect immediately upon passage.