Bills aim to curb opioid epidemic

By DANIEL ELLIOTT

State Representative

The House has just concluded our third week of the 2017 session.  As the days continue to pass, I am constantly reminded of how great our commonwealth can be and how dedicated our General Assembly is to making it even better.

Sadly, our great commonwealth is faced with an increasingly potent opioid crisis. Most notably, we are a leader in drug overdoses and the rate of infants born addicted to opioids in Kentucky is nearly three times the national average.

Fortunately, the House of Representatives knows that these things are simply unacceptable, and we can be much better. The facts speak for themselves, and we must work to correct them immediately.   

 Currently, there are two pieces of legislation that the House is considering to combat the opioid crisis. House Bill 333, which passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, designates it a felony to sell or distribute any amount of carfentanil or fentanyl based drugs. This bill also increases the penalties for such acts. Additionally, the bill cracks down on trafficking of various pharmaceuticals.

Kentucky is going to send a clear message to those bringing drugs into our state that we don’t stand for it, and we are tough on offenders.

 The second idea the House has developed to fight opioid addiction in Kentucky is House Bill 145. This bill requires that elementary through high-school students be educated about the dangers of pain killers and their connection to heroin addiction specifically.

The Kentucky Department of Education will be in charge of curriculum that informs students about the dangerous impact of drugs.

 Aside from combating drug abuse, the House completed much work this week. Over the past few days, the General Assembly took action on the following bills:

 • House Bill 35 will make Kentucky a state that allows the creation of public benefit corporations.

• House Bill 180, which establishes that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services may approve placement for a child with those who are not related by birth or marriage. 

• House Bill 14, which makes the act of killing a police officer or any first responder a hate crime.

• House Bill 192, which would allow foster youth to obtain a driver’s license more easily.

 We will soon be at the halfway point of this 30-day legislative session. All bills that can be filed have been filed, and the 16 days that remain will be spent working on timely matters of importance to you back home and to folks throughout Kentucky.

It is truly brass-tacks time as we finish our work on education, public health, justice and many other issues critical to our state’s well-being.

I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our commonwealth during the 2017 Regular Session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at (800) 372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at daniel.elliot@lrc.ky.gov.