The 2014 Regular Session is now in full swing and job creation, education, health and safety issues and good government are among the priorities emerging. As a member of leadership I have been focused on making committee assignments for proposed legislation to ensure that each issue is adressed by the committee of coresponding jurisdiction. Committee meetings are taking place each morning and then the full Senate meets each afternoon.In between, I continued meeting with constituents and stake holders regarding a myriad of issues. I have been especially focused on the rising rate of heroin addiction ,overdose deaths, and other drug related crimes in our community.
In response to this epidemic, Thursday, the Senate passed my Senate Bill 5 that is the result of several years of research and collaboration with community leaders, Cabinet Secretaries of both Health and Family Services and the Justice Cabinets, addiction treatment specialists, members of the court system and law enforcement personel.
In an effort to both fight crime and save lives, this legislation creates new strategies in the fight against heroin trafficking and addiction that is plaguing Northern Kentucky and spreading across the state . These strategies include focused treatment, education and interdiction. Sentences for traffickers will be harsher, and they will face prosecution for criminal homicide for the overdose deaths caused by their drug dealing. More resources will be available for education about the deadly addiction of heroin in hopes that people will understand that trying the drug just once will lead to a life of dependency, death, or at best , a life-long struggle against addiction. Medicaid will begin paying for substance abuse treatment for addicts that need a way out of their self-constructed prison of heroin addiction.
I want to thank those who see the critical need for this legislation and testified for the bill during Thursday’s committee hearing. Among those who spoke were House Representative John Tilley, Secretary of the Justice Cabinet J. Michael Brown, Eric Friedlander, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Chief Deputy Attorney General Sean Riley, Campbell County District Judge Karen Thomas, Van Ingram of the Kentucky Agency of Substance Abuse Policy, Bellevue Police Chief Wayne Turner along with prevention professionals, and many families and groups such as Holly and Eric Spect who started Northern Kentucky Hates Heroin and who have lost loved ones to heroin overdoses and want to use their tragedy to help others avoid similar tragedies. I urge you to follow the progress of this legislation, support it, and ask friends, legislators and policy makers to also voice their support.They can do so by calling the toll free message line here in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181and urging passage of SB5.
Monday, January 20 the General Assembly will not be in session in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who bravely devoted his life, and lost it, for the noble cause of civil rights for all.
It took the dedication of many to work for something bigger than any one person. As the leaders and lawmakers of Kentucky meet in the coming months, I hope we can have similar vision and work together for healthy communities with unlimited economic oportunity for all . The decisions that we make today will have lasting consequences for future generations and we have an obligation to get it right.
I appreciate your comments and input. Please contact me through the Legislative Research Commission’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. Also, you can follow the work of the General Assembly at www.lrc.ky.gov.
Source: Press Release