By FTM Publisher, Mark Collier
Dear Honorable Members of the Kentucky Legislature -
At last weekend's legislative forum in Florence, Northern Kentucky Caucus chairwoman Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, told the crowd if meaningful heroin legislation wasn't passed this session, "you ought to throw us all out of office."
She's damn right.
Right now there are dueling heroin bills in the Senate and House. Ideally you will take the best of both, with the most common grand, hash out the differences and get a bill signed. End of story. No one is going to remember who sponsored the bill in a year from now, but we will remember if a bill gets done.
I am writing this not as a member of the media, but as a fellow citizen of the Commonwealth. We have hired you because we believe in you. Maybe not as an entire body, but in each district or region, the majority of voters put you in because you're supposed to do what is best for us.
After the failure of Senate Bill 5 last year and the political games that were played that led to it's demise, I am asking each of you to find common ground and find it now.
I am aware there are multiple bills on the Senate and House floors that are being passed around (read Dayton Councilman Ben Baker's thoughts on the differences in the two bills here). Everyone has an answer. I am not here to promote any one bill over another, but what I am asking is that you do something.
Make it a priority. Do it now. Don't wait until the last day of the general assembly only to have a bridge amendment added to it. Make it a clean bill. One bill that stands for one thing. Stop pointing fingers. Quit playing games. Get something done. As far as I'm concerned no official in Northern Kentucky should do anything until this is passed through the Kentucky Legislature.
Joe Fischer, Chris McDaniel, Wil Schroder, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Rick Rand, Sal Santoro, Brian Linder, Ryan Quarles, Diane St. Onge, Thomas Kerr, Arnold Simpson, Dennis Keene and Chair Wuchner: get it done. Plain and simple.
The contentious parts of the dueling bills may take longer to figure out. And that's okay. But let's listen to our doctors and caretakers. Let's keep emotion and political ideology out of this. In a perfect world, heroin and addiction wouldn't exist, but it does. Be realistic and do what's best. If it were your child, brother, sister, mother or father: how would you want them to be treated? What measures would you want to be available to them?
I'm not going to spout off my opinion of needle exchange or sentencing or penalties, but while you belabor points, a large part of Northern Kentucky is withering away. Heroin is literally eating away at our cities' core. I understand you were all elected and have your own issues you'd like to take up, but our caucus should know better than anyone else in Frankfort at the toll this scourge of a drug caused.
Disease is spreading. People are dying. Money is being sucked in the ancillary heroin blackhole of despair (Kentucky Medicaid paid $35 million in 2012 to treat 824 babies with drug withdrawal).
Please, for the sake of Northern Kentucky. Be productive. Be our advocates and work with each other. It's not just your political lives at stake. Real people are dying.
Get something done.
- Mark Collier
Editor Fort Thomas Living Magazine