The Speaker of the Kentucky House is signaling that a bill designed to fight heroin stands a good chance of passing his chamber this year.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo was quoted by the Courier-Journal as saying the odds of the bill passing the House are “pretty good”, given that lawmakers have shown a bipartisan ability to back legislation battling illegal drugs. A bill sponsored by Senate Republican Katie Stine seeks to increase the punishment of those convicted of selling high-volumes of drugs while increasing access to substance abuse treatment centers for addicts.
Stine’s bill passed the full Senate on Thursday and is now being considered by the House.
The northern Kentucky lawmaker says her part of the state has seen its treatment centers and law enforcement agencies swamped by a major surge in heroin abuse.
The Courier-Journal reports defense attorneys are objecting to a part of the bill that would help prosecutors convict some drug dealers of homicide when the sale of illegal drugs results in overdose deaths.
Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, follows testimony by Col. Wayne Turner, Bellevue Chief of Police, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee, and later the full Senate, passed a bill sponsored by Stine to combat Kentucky's growing heroin addiction problem.
A bill aimed at combating Kentucky’s rising heroin abuse problem is on to the House after gaining unanimous support in the state Senate. Republican Katie Stine’s measure was passed Thursday on a 36-0 vote, and seeks to distinguish between those who are selling the drug, and those who have become addicted.
“The bill targets two different groups: the trafficker who needs to be run out of Kentucky or locked up, and the addict, who has broken the law, but who has created their own personal prison of addiction that is far worse than any jail the state could design, and who frankly needs treatment,” said the Campbell County lawmaker.
Stine’s bill creates tougher punishments for dealers, making them serve more of their prison sentences before becoming eligible for parole. The legislation also requires the Kentucky Medicaid program to pay for substance-abuse treatment.
According to Stine, the increasing heroin problem is having a major impact on courts and emergency rooms in parts of the commonwealth, especially in the northern part of the state.
A debate over Kentucky’s health insurance exchange ended with a walkout by Democratic lawmakers Wednesday. They were angered over an attempt by Republicans on the joint Health and Welfare committee to declare Governor Steve Beshear's executive order establishing the exchange illegal.