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Rep. Tilley says needle exchange, Naloxone availability among potential changes to heroin bill

03/17/2014 10:49 AM

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said he is still trying to add provisions to the heroin bill that would allow for needle exchange programs and expand the availability to the public of a drug that combats the effects of heroin overdoses.

Tilley, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, met Friday with the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 5, Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate. Stine has expressed concern about the delay in the House to take up the measure, which passed the Senate on Jan. 16.

The House Judiciary Committee will take up the bill to combat heroin dealing and addiction this week or next, Tilley said. He said the holdup on the bill has been to work on the language and clear a backlog of House bills in his committee.

He said he’s been compiling a list of provisions to add, including an emergency clause that Stine had requested so provisions of the bill will take effect upon the governor’s signature.

“We have a list of those changes, a number of which will enhance the bill and make it a little better …. Some of them are very subtle, a couple of them are substantive,” Tilley said.

One of the key points of debate when the bill comes up in Tilley’s committee will be the changes aimed at the prosecution of heroin dealers. Defense attorneys raised questions during the Senate hearing about the constitutionality of shifting the burden of proof more toward the defendant in cases in which a heroin dealer is charged for homicide in the event of a fatal overdose.

Tilley said all of that will be debated in his committee, but he understands the intent of those provisions.

As for the needle exchanges, Tilley said the surge in cases of Hepatitis C among heroin addicts requires that something should be done.

The bill that passed the Senate shields first responders from liability for using Naloxone on an addict who has overdosed.

But Tilley said he’s open to expanding the availability of Naloxone. Currently, someone can get it through a prescription in Kentucky. But other states suffering from similar spikes in heroin abuse, like Rhode Island, have made the chemical available over the counter.



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