Bill focused on prevention, treatment, and recovery passes Senate and heads to final legislative step

A policy to ensure Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorder are supported in their communities passed through the Senate unanimously Tuesday. The bill now moves back to the House for concurrence before going to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 7, filed by Rep. Adam Bowling (R-Middlesboro), establishes a framework for communities to become “Recovery Ready,” bringing much needed consistency to local substance use prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.

The bill establishes an advisory council housed under the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy with members from different areas including business, recovery, education, local government, health care and others that will determine appropriate and meaningful “Recovery Ready” standards for the Commonwealth’s communities.

Presenting the bill on the Senate floor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield noted the bill has a committee substitute that adds treatment centers to the council. He noted many of the successes Kentucky has seen in recent years working toward policies to help with successful reentry and quoted Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts in saying that “Kentuckians in all 120 counties should be able to access the comprehensive treatment and recovery services, they need to lead healthy, productive lives, and this legislation is an important step in the right direction.”

Following passage in the Senate, Watts made the following statement on behalf of the Kentucky Comeback, a coalition of grassroots advocates working to transform the state’s approach to addiction and criminal justice reform:

“We applaud the Senate for passing Rep. Bowling’s House Bill 7, which will help establish Recovery Ready communities across the Commonwealth. HB 7 will ensure that all Kentuckians, regardless of where they call home, can access the comprehensive support services they need to achieve lifelong recovery from substance use disorders. We thank both chambers for coming together to bring HB 7 to passage and encourage Gov. Beshear to swiftly sign this bill into law.

“The General Assembly still has the opportunity to pass meaningful criminal justice reforms this session. Both House Bill 126 and House Bill 25 have passed out of the House, and we encourage the Senate to move both pieces of legislation forward. HB 126 highlights the proven link between a steady job and long-term recovery and will help more Kentuckians secure second chance employment. And, for Kentuckians who have turned their lives around and are now heading down the right path, HB 25 gives them a well-deserved opportunity to further their education by expanding eligibility for KEES scholarship funds.

“Kentuckians living with substance use disorders have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope our state legislators will continue to act on their behalf by passing HB 126 and HB 25 this session.”

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Jacqueline Pitts
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