House committee passes updated version of heroin bill

Lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Tuesday evening for a meeting of the House Judiciary meeting, where a new version of House Bill 213–the heroin bill crafted in the House–was discussed and passed.

House Judiciary Chair John Tilley explained to committee members that Senate Bill 192, a bill sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, would be stripped and replaced with new language to address the state’s heroin issue. The new bill contains many of the same provisions from House Bill 213, including keeping the language to set up needle exchange programs across the state–an issue that has been a sticking point between the House and Senate.

The updated bill does not contain much language from the Senate’s heroin bill, Senate Bill 5. Tilley noted the lack of language from the Senate bill and said this bill does not represent a compromise, but does represent progress. SB 5 sponsor Sen. Chris McDaniel attended the meeting along with Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield who said the Senate has been in discussions with the House and will continue to talk about solutions.

The updated House version still divides traffickers into three tiers in order to charge them.  The Senate bill charges all the same, another difference that will likely be worked out in a conference committee.

Because the House committee passed the bill Tuesday evening, it will likely be called on the floor Wednesday. However, that does not give the Senate much time to take up the issue before the veto period begins Thursday. A conference committee could be held Wednesday and the two chambers could reach an agreement. 

If an agreement is not reached Wednesday night, a compromise bill could be voted on in the final days of session but the legislature could not override any veto from the governor. 

The Kentucky Chamber is supportive of finding a solution to the ever-growing heroin issue in the state and passing legislation that will help save lives across the commonwealth.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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