Beshear says he wants needle exchange in heroin bill; will ask House and Senate leaders to discuss KTRS bonding

02/25/2015 06:54 PM

As lawmakers head toward a likely conference committee to negotiate an agreement on anti-heroin legislation, Gov. Steve Beshear says a provision to allow local needle-exchange programs should be part of a final bill.

Speaking to reporters outside his Capitol office just hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee heard discussion on the House version of the heroin legislation, Beshear said he was in favor of the House version of the bill but applauded both the House and Senate for their work on the issue.

“I personally would like to see a needle exchange,” Beshear said. “Number one, I don’t think it encourages more drug use. And number two, we’ve got such a problem with hepatitis C and all of these bad diseases that we could help get under control if we had a needle exchange.”

Beshear said both the House and Senate are serious about the issue, and he was “confident” the chambers’ leaders would agree to a form of the bill.

As the House and Senate begin to publicly vet the bills, Beshear said he “stand(s) ready” to help and sit-down with anyone needing his help to avoid an impasse.

One issue House and Senate leaders might need a negotiator to work through is the historically large bonding proposal the state House passed this week.

The House is proposing a $3.3 billion bonding plan for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, but many members of the GOP have deep fiscal concerns with the measure.

“I agree that we need to do something for the teachers,” Beshear said. “That system is in trouble.”

Beshear said the problems are not as troubling as what the Kentucky Retirement Systems have faced in recent years, but he said KTRS needs a solution.

“Whether it’s going to be $3.3 billion in bonds or some other approach, we need to figure this out sooner rather than later,” Beshear said. “I’m going to encourage the Senate leadership to sit down with the House and let’s talk through this and let’s see what we can come up with that will get our teacher retirement on a more solid basis.”

Pure Politics reporter Don Weber contributed to this report.


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