Stivers: Failure to pass heroin legislation 'tragic'; Will ask Beshear to call special session on the issue

04/16/2014 12:35 AM

Calling the failure of the House to pass a heroin bill “tragic,” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, vowed to meet with Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday and urge him to call a special session.

Before the 2014 legislative session even began, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled legislation aimed at curbing the rising scourge of heroin in Kentucky. The three-tiered bill would have provided education, treatment and tougher penalties for those people caught trafficking the drug.

The bill hit speed bumps throughout the session specifically over language that would have shifted the burden of proof to the defendant rather than having prosecutors have to prove the guilt of the defendant.

Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate, removed that language on Monday while re-attaching the bill to a separate piece of legislation in the House, but that version was never heard in the House.

A frustrated Stivers told reporters after the session that the problem is of “epidemic proportion.”

“I think the Commonwealth would think if we came up here in five days and spent $300,000 to do something to stop or curb this problem that would be money well spent,” Stivers said.

“I will discuss the issue with him [Wednesday] to see if he feels it warrants it and see when we can come in if he feels it can be done.”

Attorney General Jack Conway, who was part of the bipartisan group pushing for the bill, said he was “disappointed” the legislation didn’t pass, but called on the group to redouble their efforts.

“We must refocus our efforts to pass this legislation and expand treatment for opiate addiction to address the abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin,” Conway said.

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