Senate passes two new heroin bills, still no agreement reached by conference committee

After little action during the day, the Senate returned to their chamber Monday evening to work on heroin legislation.

In a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, members amended two separate bills with two different versions of heroin language and moved both to the floor.

The committee amended House Bill 413 to include brand new language that Senate President Robert Stivers referred to as a compromise between the two chambers because it removes the most controversial pieces of the different pieces of legislation.

The amended version of House Bill 413 removes any new penalties, needle exchange programs and any Good Samaritan provisions. What would be left in the bill is language relating to funding for treatment, putting the rescue drug nalaxone in the hands of first responders, the idea of added education on the issue and other smaller changes.

The new bill comes after stalled compromise in the conference committee on heroin due to disagreement over those more controversial provisions.

In the committee, Stivers said the Senate’s move to pass the scaled back bill is to try and ensure there will be a vote on the issue in the final days. 

Committee members also amended House Bill 412 to add their original heroin bill, Senate Bill 5. Both of the bills were sent to the Senate floor and placed on the orders of the day for Tuesday, the proposed last day of the 2015 session.

Earlier in the day, the House added a floor amendment with language of their original heroin bill to Senate Bill 54, a bill sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield dealing with drug-dependent newborns. The floor amendment was the subject of questions about whether or not it was considered piggy-backing but the chair ultimately ruled in favor of the amendment and the bill was passed.

WIth the additional revisions to bills, there are now multiple different forms of the heroin bill floating in the General Assembly on the final day of the session. 

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Jacqueline Pitts
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