Legislators announce bill aiming to curb heroin deaths

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - As lawmakers focused their efforts on prescription drug and meth abuse over the last few years, they said heroin use has skyrocketed. The Office of Drug Control Policy reports that there were 143 heroin overdose deaths in 2012. That's a 650% increase from 22 just one year before. Thursday, lawmakers from the left and the right presented a bill they prefiled together, saying it should help stop that trend.

The proposed law is sponsored by Democratic Representative John Tilley and Republican Senator Katie Stine. It would address penalties as well as treatment. If passed, the bill would allow heroin traffickers to be charged with homicide and heavy-volume traffickers (those convicted of trafficking more than four grams) would have to serve 50% of their sentences before being eligible for parole. It would also give limited immunity from drug paraphernalia and possession charges to people who call 911 to help prevent a drug overdose death. The bill also addresses education and treatment. Kentucky's Medicaid program would be required to cover substance abuse treatment and they say money the state saves through House Bill 463 would go to fund treatment and education programs. These are changes the bill's sponsors say would save lives.

"There are others who have lost sisters Sons daughters brothers and the list goes on. But today were here stop that list from going on," said Senator Katie Stine, a Republican from the 24th District.

Stine and Tilley said they didn't have finalized numbers for the fiscal impact, but expected to by the time the bill in introduced during the General Assembly.

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