ALBANY – There’s just eight days remaining in the current legislative session in Albany and a group of lawmakers are pushing for the passage of legislation to help fight heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.
Members of the State Assembly’s Minority Conference – including representative Joe Giglio (R-Gowanda) who represents Cattaraugus County – joined with parents and representatives from advocacy organizations on Wednesday to call on the Legislature and governor to take immediate action and pass legislation before the end of the legislative session on June 16.
in January the Assembly Minority Task Force on Heroin Addiction & Community Response issued a report that included, in part, the HELP (Heroin Elimination & Prevention) Plan and several recommendations.
Through those recommendations, Republicans in the Assembly have developed legislation that includes:
- Creating the class E felony of criminal possession of fentanyl, a highly-addictive painkiller that has been linked to heroin overdoses (A.9098, Graf);
- Requiring the Department of Health to establish limitations on the amount of certain Schedule II controlled substances, most notably opioids, that can be prescribed during a course of treatment (A.9585, Giglio);
- Requiring insurance companies to cover at least seven days of detoxification treatment and 30 days of rehabilitation services for substance abuse disorders (A.9604, Giglio);
- Enabling family members to help their loved ones who are suffering from addiction by creating involuntary admission procedures (Marchman Act) through the courts (A.9619, Graf);
- Providing that possession of 40 or more individual packages of heroin or a heroin mixture is presumptive evidence of a person’s intent to sell, thereby increasing the severity of the crime (A.9749, Graf); and
- Improving the operations of sober homes by requiring their certification and requiring inspections to ensure adequate conditions for individuals residing in them (A.9794, Graf).
- Establishing the “Officer Randolph Holder’s Law” – which aims to honor the memory of fallen NYPD Officer Randolph Holder by making necessary reforms to keep drug dealers with multiple felony convictions behind bars.
In May the New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction released its own report summarizing findings and recommendations resulting from forums held across the state. That report also included comprehensive legislative recommendations to address shortcomings in the state’s heroin and opioid prevention and treatment-delivery strategies, as well as a four-tiered approach to combating the heroin epidemic- prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement.
It’s not yet known if any of the proposed legislation from either the Republicans in the state Assembly or the in the Senate will be taken up before the June 16 legislative session deadline.