State News

Nine bills designed to combat opioid abuse pass state Legislature

The state Legislature passed nine bills regarding opioid treatment Tuesday. Gov. Walker said he will sign them into law.

Image By: Amileah Sutliff

Both houses of the Wisconsin state Legislature passed nine bills that target the state’s opioid epidemic Tuesday, and Gov. Scott Walker said he will sign the bills into law.

The legislation will expand treatment options and instruct the University of Wisconsin to establish a charter school for opiate-addicted teenagers, among other provisions.

To expand treatment availability, Special Session Assembly Bill 2 provides $2 million per year to help counties treat people with drug and alcohol offenses rather than imprisoning them. A separate bill, Assembly Bill 7, provides $63,000 per year for training more doctors to be specialists in treating addiction.

Assembly Bill 6 authorizes the UW System to create a charter high school for students addicted to opiates on a four-year pilot program basis.

Other bills require subscriptions for all drugs containing the opiate codeine, create regional treatment centers in underserved areas and hire new special agents to investigate drug trafficking.

The bills were introduced by state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who is the co-chair of the governor’s task force on opioid abuse.

“More and more people have been falling victim to potent, legal pain medications. The power of these addictions is devastating,” Nygren said in a statement last year. “In order to continue to fight this epidemic, we need to work to stop addiction before it begins and to change the perception of addiction.”

All the bills passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday except Assembly Bill 6. State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, cast the lone no vote.

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