May 3, Wisconsin Health News
The Senate and Assembly passed a number of bills that are part of Gov. Scott Walker's special session targeting opioid addiction Tuesday.
The proposals originated from a preliminary report issued in January by a task force co-chaired by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
"With the nine special session bills advanced today, the Senate has taken several great strides towards helping to combat our state's ongoing opioid crisis," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in a statement.
But Democrats questioned whether the bills go far enough. "After years of struggles, we're taking baby steps when we should be making major strides to improve outcomes and strengthen community safety," Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a statement.
The Senate approved proposals that would:
- prohibit the dispensing of schedule V controlled substances containing codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethylmorphine and other substances listed under the section of law the bill targets.
- allow school district personnel and college and university residence hall directors to administer naloxone.
- provide $2 million a year for alternatives to prosecution and incarceration for those with substance use disorders, $150,000 a year to expand those alternatives to more counties and $261,000 a year for an additional pilot program.
- provide $50,000 to help establish a recovery charter school.
- provide $63,000 a year to expand graduate medical training on addiction.
- provide $1 million a year to create more opioid treatment programs in the state.
- provide $500,000 a year to establish an addiction medicine consultation program.
- provide $420,000 a year to hire four additional drug trafficking investigators at the Department of Justice.
- provide $200,000 a year to expand substance abuse screening by the Department of Public Instruction.
The Assembly approved the bills last month, so they now head to Walker's desk for his approval.
The chamber also approved two additional bills Tuesday that are part of the package but haven't been taken up by the Senate. Those measures would:
- provide limited legal immunity to overdose victims.
- allow those with substance abuse disorders to be involuntarily committed.