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23 Bills Pass Senate to Combat Heroin Uptick

23 Bills to Address Heroin Uptick

ALBANY (WENY) -- State lawmakers are in session for another two weeks and today they scrambled to combat what's being called a  growing epidemic here in the Southern Tier.
     The New York State Senate's Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction proposed over two dozen bills to help get these drugs off our streets.
     Today, 23 bills covering education, prevention, treatment, and stricter criminal penalties were passed, but they have yet to be approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
     Lawmakers agreed today that there is not just one law that can be a silver bullet to combat the uptick in drug addiction. They said what's needed is a package.
     The task force learned through public sessions, one held right here in Elmira that there were issues with  insurance coverage for substance abuse disorder. Today, bills passed address that concern
     Some senators worried heroin addiction was being treated as a criminal issue and not a mental health problem. Some, comparing bills passed today to Rockefeller drug laws that simply increase criminal penalties. Bills were passed with stiffer penalties for the sale of an opioid that causes the death of another.
     "The addiction to these very addictive drugs, like heroin and the opioids is a consistent problem throughout the state with a need to offer better treatment options to treat the disease that these individuals have," said State Senator Tom O'Mara.
     The Senate also approved two pieces of anti-meth legislation that State Senator Tom O'Mara has been pushing over the past few years. One would make criminal penalties for meth sales in line with cocaine and heroin and the other would help law enforcement with over the counter cold medication sales.