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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Heroin legislation update: Defense attorneys lobbying to take bill in 'a different route'

House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley said he’s looking to improve the Senate’s bill aimed at combating heroin but that doesn’t necessarily mean taking the advice of defense attorneys who are concerned about some of the sentencing provisions in the bill.
The legislation takes a three pronged approach at curbing the rising use of heroin in the state by increasing treatment, improving education and outreach and increasing penalties for dealers — especially those who are found to have sold the drug to someone who fatally overdosed. Tilley said some “criminal defense guys” have been suggesting that he take the bill in a different direction.
“I’ve certainly given no indication of how I might lean on that,” Tilley said.
While talking about ways he could possibly strengthen the legislation, Tilley said he’d like to see the bill tackle the problem with needle sharing, which has led to more Hepatitis C cases.
Before the legislative session even started leaders on both sides of the Capitol listed heroin as a major priority — but now that the session is at its halfway point the bill has been sitting in Tilley’s committee. The Senate passed the bill in January , but as of yet the House Judiciary Committee has yet to take up the legislation. Tilley said he expects the committee to take up the bill “very soon.”

The measure is being championed by Tilley, Attorney General Jack Conway, Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate. The bipartisan group appeared together at a press conference before the session started.

Stine weighed in to FTM:

"My main goal this year is to fight the scourges of heroin trafficking, addiction, and overdose deaths that are crippling many areas in Northern Kentucky, and spreading steadily throughout the Commonwealth. This deadly epidemic demands immediate action. My legislation, Senate Bill 5 gives resources to fight this problem from law enforcement, treatment and educational standpoints.  This bill was written collaboratively with the support of Attorney General Jack Conway, the administration cabinet Secretaries and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Tilley. The Senate quickly passed this legislation unanimously, but we still are waiting for the House to give the bill a hearing in Rep. Tilley’s committee and then pass it out of their chamber. I sent a request to the House to expedite passage of the bill and Senate President Robert Stivers did so as well. You can express your support for Senate Bill 5 by calling 1-800-372-7181 and asking that the House pass this life-saving measure quickly."

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