House heroin legislation will likely be heard next week; trafficking provision could be stumbling block

02/05/2015 07:28 PM

FRANKFORT — There are multiple areas of agreement between the House and Senate judiciary chairmen on what the state should do to address the increase in heroin abuse and deaths, but delineating what makes someone a heroin trafficker will likely have to be ironed out in conference committee.

The House version of a heroin bill will include several areas already addressed in the Senate version , Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, told Pure Politics during a panel discussion at the Kentucky Cable Telecommunications Association on Wednesday evening.

There is agreement, Tilley said, on the use and administration of the overdose-halting drug naloxone, as well as expanded addiction treatment and a “good Samaritan” provision that would hold fellow users harmless for reporting a drug overdose.

Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said there should also be tougher penalties for “high-level” drug traffickers.

“We can’t just expect that stiffer penalties will solve the drug problem. If that was the case we wouldn’t have a drug problem today because Kentucky has some of the harshest laws in the country,” Tilley said.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agreed that there should be a distinction between a “small-scale peddler … and one who has a vast amount.”

“I’m just not really sure where that threshold ought to be,” Westerfield said.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to come out, but that’s going to come out, but that’s something I had some concerns with … and I’m happy to consider some amount, some threshold.”

Legislation in the House will be filed this week with a committee hearing as early as Tuesday and on to the House floor soon after, Tilley said.

“We expect to be in a conference on that and reasonable minds will come together — it’s time to pass that legislation,” he said.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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