Elmira/Corning Regional Airport
25 Bills to Combat Heroin Uptick
Written By: Tanja Rekhi
ALBANY (WENY) -- For weeks and weeks, New York State Senators listened to people from Albany to Elmira who have seen the impact of heroin and opioids first hand. Some overcame addictions, others lost loved ones.
The Senate formed a Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in April and has hosted 18 public forums on the growing crisis throughout the state.
After hearing from former addicts, law enforcement, counselors, and families who have lost loved ones to addictions, they've proposed 25 pieces of legislation covering education and prevention, treatment and stricter criminal penalties.
New proposals from the Senate's Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction would expand access to addiction services, including detoxification and transitional services for people in recovery, and working with insurance companies for determining coverage.
State Senator Tom O'Mara is a member of the Task Force and hosted a public forum at Elmira College on May 16.
"We're looking at streamlining the process for insurance companies to allow authorization for individuals to get into treatment," said Senator O'Mara. "And certainly trying to avoid anyone getting in the addiction and trying these drugs in the first place through prevention and awareness courses."
Lawmakers say there is power in education as well. They're initiating awareness and education program through the Department of Health and The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
And on the law enforcement side, they're calling for stricter crime penalties for drug dealers.
"Including a homicide statute for a criminal that sells drugs to somebody that ultimately overdoses and dies. An A-1 Felony will result. I think that will put a lot of heat on the drug dealers," said Sen. O'Mara.
The Task Force is confident this legislative package will pass the senate within the next few weeks. They urge the assembly to pass it as well and say if it isn't passed they'll ask Governor Cuomo to have a special summer session to approve the bills.