Northern Ky. House Republicans pre-file bill to combat heroin

10/24/2014 01:47 PM

Two northern Kentucky House Republican Representatives Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington and Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, have filed legislation in the Kentucky House of Representatives with the goal of combating the growing heroin problem in the Commonwealth.

Both lawmakers said in a statement which was released on Friday that the bill is a comprehensive approach to combating heroin, focusing on treatment, education, and increased penalties and fines for those who sell heroin in Kentucky.

“Our Northern Kentucky heroin crisis is a horrendous epidemic that’s no longer confined to urban and suburban regions but like a plague it is continues to spread shattering lives and eroding communities across our Commonwealth,” Wuchner said. “The Heroin Impact Act that Rep. Fischer and I are proposing for the upcoming session is a multifaceted approach to combat the epidemic of heroin use and trafficking. It includes a focus on awareness and education, overdose prevention, identifies resources for treatment of those addicted, and aims to dismantle the heroin supply chain by strengthening criminal justice laws to prosecute criminals who traffic heroin in Kentucky.”

Fisher said that newly filed legislation builds on the foundation of Sen. Katie Stine’s Senate Bill 5 which failed to pass in the waning hours of the 2014 session.

Both Fischer and Wuchner sought Stine’s input in drafting the new legislation.

“In the waning hours of the 2014 session, we watched in the House the political games played with Senate Bill 5,” Fischer said. “We made a commitment to our community that we would prepare legislation for the 2015 Session.”

According to the release about the legislation, the 2015 Heroin Impact Act seeks to combat the heroin trade in Kentucky by toughening laws and expanding treatment options:

Education and Awareness

  • Encourage on going public awareness campaigns on college campuses and age appropriate awareness programs in Kentucky middle and high schools.
  • Requires mandatory training for all law enforcement officers in Kentucky on issues related to heroin through the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice. The mandatory training must be in place by July 1, 2016.
  • Require all county coroners to report any deaths caused by the use of a Schedule I controlled substance to their local Commonwealth Attorney’s office and local law enforcement.

Overdose Prevention and Addiction Treatment

  • Expanded access to naloxone, a prescription medicine that can reverse opioid overdose
  • Provides that medical doctors may dispense naloxone to a person or agency. Would allow peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and school employees, authorized under Kentucky law, to administer medication to receive, possess, and administer naloxone to a person suffering from an apparent opiate-related overdose.
  • Provides that local public districts and school boards may permit a school to keep naloxone on premises and establishes policies and procedures related to keeping naloxone on school premises.
  • Establishes a Heroin Specified Court fee applied to all Class C, B and A Heroin trafficking convictions to be remitted to the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy to provide supplemental funding to pay for heroin treatment programs operating in county jails within the region the trafficking offense was committed.
  • Direct the Department of Medical Services to expand treatment options for heroin and other substance abuse disorders, which will include assessment, crisis residential, mobile crisis, outpatient, intensive outpatient treatment, residential treatment, and opioid antagonist therapy.
  • Require that anyone convicted of a trafficking offense cannot be paroled until they have completed or have enrolled in a substance abuse or educational program approved by the Kentucky Department of Corrections.
  • Provide for a path for pregnant women who may be subject to losing parental rights because of their use of a controlled substance to retain those rights if they have enrolled and are in compliance with a substance abuse treatment program, and have met several requirements under the law.

Dismantling the Heroin Distribution Network

  • Effective Tools for Law Enforcement and the Courts
  • Increased time served and penalty for traffickers also Service Fee implemented for trafficking more than 4 grams of heroin.
  • Enhanced felony charges for convictions for trafficking in heroin, eliminating shock probation and restructure in minimal time served requirements for heroin convictions.
  • Class C Felony for conviction of trafficking in heroin greater than 2 -4 grams will require minimal time of 50 percent of sentence served, and enhanced Class C Felony for those trafficking greater than 4 grams would require minimal of 85 percent of sentence served
  • Class B Felony – Increasing the charge of trafficking in heroin when a death occurs due to an overdose to a Class B Felony.
  • Establishes a Heroin Specified Court fee to be used for treatment —Traffickers convicted of Class C or B felony will be assessed Kentucky Heroin Trafficking Assessment, applied to all Class C, B and A Heroin trafficking convictions to be remitted to the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy to provide supplemental funding to pay for heroin treatment programs operating in county jails within the region the trafficking offence was committed.

A person convicted of trafficking certain enumerated amounts of heroin must pay a service, in addition to any other penalties under the law.

  • 2 to 4 grams: $1,000
  • 4 to 10 grams: $5,000
  • 10 grams or more: $10,000 and an additional ten thousand dollars for every additional ten grams trafficked in excess of the initial ten gram threshold.

“By improving education and treatment we hope to decrease the demand for heroin,” said Wuchner. By enhancing the penalties, we aim to reduce the supply in the marketplace.”

“I applaud the efforts of Representatives Fischer and Wuchner in combating the heroin epidemic with their proposed legislation,” said Sen. Stine. “Working with members of the Kentucky Senate, I sincerely hope that they can save lives, prevent addiction, and get tough on dealers.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.