Stine preemptively moves to approve provisions of compromise on heroin legislation

04/14/2014 03:24 PM

UPDATED: Senator Katie Stine, R-Southgate, on Monday moved to salvage a bill to tighten penalties on heroin dealers and increase drug treatment and education by attaching an amendment with the hallmarks of a compromise onto a road-related bill during a hastily-called Senate Transportation Committee meeting.

Stine said she took the step to signal to the House what a majority of senators could agree to on the heroin bill as the original version, Senate Bill 3, has stalled on the House floor.

A House committee only narrowly approved the bill in Committee last month as many lawmakers expressed concerns over the constitutionality of a provision regarding the prosecution of heroin traffickers who are found to have sold to someone who fatally overdosed. Many lawmakers who work as defense attorneys said they objected to the provision that, they said, essentially shifted the burden of proof to the defendant rather than having prosecutors have to prove the guilt of the defendant. Stine said she removed that language.

Stine said the amended version she offered re-works the language in the bill “honoring” the role of the court, but still inferring that use of heroin will result in death.

The latest version does include a new provision added into the House Committee substitute that would place the proposed pain pill, Zohydro, onto the list of Schedule I drugs that are illegal. The new version also leaves in a clause that would allow it to go into effect upon the governor’s signature as well as another provision that penalizes drugged driving.

Stine did not include in the bill a needle exchange, which was added in the House Committee. The exchange is meant to remove dirty needles from public circulation to cut down on an increase in Hepatitis C cases driven by the sharing needles.

Since the bill passed the full Senate in January with a 36-0 vote, Stine said there have been 24 deaths related to heroin in Kenton County.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, also has an amended version of the bill that is similar to what Stine is proposing, his bill however includes the needle exchange.

Tilley said he expected the bills to be taken up on Tuesday, the last day of the session, but didn’t know how the individual pieces would move forward.

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 nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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