March 10, Wisconsin Health News
Two Assembly committees approved five bills that target the state's opioid addiction Thursday. The bills are part of the special session ordered by Gov. Scott Walker to fight the epidemic.
Most of the bills made it out of committee on bipartisan, unanimous votes. But a proposal providing $420,000 over the next two fiscal years to hire four investigators at the Department of Justice targeting drug trafficking passed 9-3.
Reps. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum; Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee; and Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, voted against passage.
"This means of course we're going to send up more people into prison," Kessler told members of the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. "Because now we're going to investigate more, find more and prosecute more. You have to take that into consideration."
Other special session bills that made it out of committee, including the Assembly Committee on Education:
- A bill allowing school district personnel to administer naloxone, an anti-overdose drug. Lawmakers also backed an amendment from Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, extending the bill to residence hall directors at colleges and universities.
- A bill that would continue providing $2 million annually s to fund more treatment and diversion programs in the state and provide $150,000 annually to expand the program and $261,000 annually for a pilot program for expanded efforts. Lawmakers voted down an amendment 8-4 on party-lines from Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, that would have added more funding to the bill.
- A bill that would allow the University of Wisconsin System to establish a charter recovery high school for up to 15 students with substance abuse disorders. Lawmakers backed two amendments.
- A bill that would provide funding to expand a substance abuse disorder screening tool used in public schools. Lawmakers amended the bill to provide $400,000 over the next two years, bringing the amount in line with the governor's budget.