Westerfield and three other members piecing together heroin legislation for next session
09/08/2014 06:50 PM
Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, says a small group of lawmakers is working behind the scenes to reach an agreement on heroin legislation before the 2015 session begins in January.
“We’ve started working on it the moment we adjourned,” Westerfield said.
Westerfield along with House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and two other lawmakers — Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, make up the group who are working towards legislation next session.
“The four of us have gotten together to kind of put our heads together on a version of a bill. We’ve been looking at different language versions of last year’s bill and the bill before that trying to find language we can agree on,” Westerfield said adding that the group is working as a bipartisan mix of House and Senate in the group.
The General Assembly failed in the 2014 session to pass any legislation to deal with the rise of heroin in Kentucky — something members of both chambers had said was one of the most important issues to deal with.
Westerfield said all members feel the need to pass legislation now the trick is finding the right elements of a bill which solves the problem, and can pass the legislature.
“I won’t say that there’s anything that’s not on the table for what we could consider,” Westerfield said adding the group is also going through all of the amendments on the bill.
Westerfield said there are two main elements he feels the bill needs to accomplish — imposing harsher penalties on drug dealers caught trafficking heroin and providing treatment for those addicted.
“I want to be harder on the ones who are trafficking in it, but I also think we need to continue to expand on the growth of HB463 and the development of treatment options and those who are addicted to it,” Westerfield said.
Westerfield said he wants a tougher law than what is currently on the books, but he was not sure if the law needs to be as severe as it was first written by Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate, who wanted the ability to charge traffickers with homicide.
However he said, “I want them to look at Kentucky as a no man’s land for their business.”
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