Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Heroin Top Concern for 2015 Legislature

The 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly opened Tuesday, and heroin was on everyone's minds./CC

The Kentucky General Assembly 2015 session began Tuesday, and the chief topic of conversation among Northern Kentucky lawmakers was heroin.

The theme of new legislation for this session: shift legal efforts from punishing offenders to targeting traffickers and treating addicts.

Representative Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) co-sponsored a bill, the Kentucky Heroin Impact Act, introduced Tuesday that, he said, will make great strides in targeting heroin traffickers as well as providing new avenues of treatment for heroin addicts.

Educating the public is also a primary objective for the new legislation.

“Heroin is killing young people, destroying families, ending jobs, bankrupting businesses, increasing theft and burglaries and filling our prisons,” Fischer said.

Among the measures proposed by the bill are:

- allow emergency responders to administer naloxone to a person suffering from an apparent opiate-related overdose

- the Department of Criminal Justice must provide regionalized in-service training on the topic of heroin

- an increase in the scope of Coroners' offices reporting of deaths involving controlled substances

- a portion of recaptured savings from criminal justice reforms be directed to the Department of Corrections to provide funding for the purchase and administration of naltrexone

- create a new section of KRS Chapter 205 to enumerate the controlled substance treatment services to be offered by the Department for Medicaid Services

- if certain conditions are met, a person who informs a peace officer, prior to a search, of the presence of a hypodermic needle or other sharp object, he or she will not charged with or prosecuted for possession of drug paraphernalia for the needle or sharp object or for possession of a controlled substance for residual or trace drug amounts present on the needle or sharp object

- provide that a person has a defense for possession of a controlled substance if the person in good faith seeks medical assistance and meets certain additional criteria

- Staff report

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