Even with special session unlikely, a compromise on key provisions on heroin is in reach, Tilley said

05/01/2014 08:59 AM

House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley said lawmakers aren’t far apart on many of the key parts of the bill aimed at combating heroin addiction and said he regrets not splitting the least controversial portions off to get them passed before the session ended.

Tilley said he was still holding out hope as the hours ticked away on April 15 that lawmakers could finish the full bill. But he said he wished, as a backup plan, he would have split off portions, such as expanded addiction treatment and allowing wider use of the drug Naloxone to counteract the effect of an overdose.

“I regret, frankly, that we didn’t do that,” Tilley said in an interview this week in his Hopkinsville law office.

One of the portions that hung up the heroin bill was language intended to help prosecutors going after heroin dealers and increase the penalties for such dealers.

Tilley said he believes lawmakers can come to a compromise on that. And he said he didn’t believe the failure of the bill would affect the ability to punish dealers in the meantime — especially if they face federal prosecution:

But Tilley and other legislators will likely have to wait until January to take up the bill again. Gov. Steve Beshear told reporters in Frankfort this week that a special session to deal with the issue was unlikely.

Tilley said he plans to start holding hearings in the judiciary committee starting in June when lawmakers will hold interim meetings. And he said a task force of key lawmakers and leaders should start meeting and negotiating.

The heroin bill was a victim of a crush of deadline bill-passing on the final day of the session. The bill wasn’t presented or discussed during the caucus meetings the House Democratic majority held in the final two days. Other bills, such as the road plan, took the focus on most of the meetings.

The heroin bill — Senate Bill 5 — wasn’t held back for leverage to make deals with Senate leaders over passing House bills, Tilley said. However, he lamented the fact that it fell so late in the session.


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