Heroin Legislation Passed by Both House and Senate; Final Details to be Ironed Out in Conference Committee

Rep. Dennis Keene to Serve on Final Heroin Conference Committee

heroin conf committeeFrankfort, KY– Late Wednesday night, the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 192 and House Bill 213 by a unanimous vote of 98-0 to pass legislation to curb Kentucky’s rising heroin epidemic.   Following many hours of negotiations, the House passed legislation that still needs final agreement before becoming law. A conference committee of representatives and senators will meet on March 23, 2015 to finalize the details.

The legislation does three major things to stem the growth of illegal heroin use and trafficking in the Commonwealth. It sets aside more money for treatment, toughens punishment for traffickers and improves public safety.

Representative Dennis Keene will serve on the conference committee charged with finalizing the legislation.  “We have developed a comprehensive plan that provides a path forward to stem this terrible epidemic on our communities,” said Rep. Dennis Keene. “We have listened to families, health care providers and law enforcement and have included important provisions for them in the sweeping legislation.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime has studied the heroin issue and urges states to put more resources towards treatment and alternatives programs, rather than a purely penalty program to address the problem.  “Spending additional taxpayer funds on severe penalties will come at a great cost, while bringing little benefit in relieving this crisis,” said Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Marc Levin. “Texas chose to stop building prisons, and instead invest in treatment and alternative programs that stop problem behavior.”

The majority of the enhanced programs in the bill would begin in the next budget cycle.  To make it possible for Kentucky to address the epidemic now, the House approved an amendment authorizing $10 million from the executive branch budget for funding for treatment programs that will begin July 1, 2015.

SB 192/HFA 1 Appropriations

Recipients and Purpose Amount
KY-ASAP for supplemental grants to community mental health centers $ 3,400,000.00
DOC to local jails and detention centers for substance abuse treatment programs $ 1,500,000.00
KY-ASAP for supplemental grants to community substance abuse treatment providers offering residential treatment to mothers suffering from substance abuse disorders to combat Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome $ 1,300,000.00
Prosecutors Advisory Council to enhance use of rocket docket prosecutions in controlled substances cases $ 1,300,000.00
Department of Public Advocacy to provide supplemental funding for their Social Worker Program to develop individualized alternative sentencing plans $ 1,300,000.00
KY-ASAP for supplemental funding of traditional substance abuse programming $ 700,000.00
DOC for the purchase of extended release opioid receptor antagonist treatments for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence (vivitrol) $ 700,000.00
Paid for by Dennis Keene for State Representative Campaign
LRC photos courtesy of LRC Public Information