The state Senate is set to act this week on a package of proposed laws arising from its Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addition, task force co-char Sen. Rob Ortt announced.
The legislation comes after a series of forums held recently in Lewiston, Rochester, Yorktown and Albany. Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, says the bill address concerns raised by law enforcement, health and mental health experts, victims’ advocates, local residents and other participants.
“We’ve gathered input from experts and community members and have now taken the next step to fight this war against drugs,” he said. “This sensible legislation will help prevent drug abuse, addiction and related crime, and provide families with better access to treatment programs."
These are the bills:
• Laree's Law, S4163, which establishes the crime of homicide by sale of an opioid controlled substance when a person who consumes the substance dies. Ortt says the law specifically targets dealers and others who seek to profit from drug sales, not witnesses or co-users who were with a victim at the time of overdose.
• S4177, which lowers from four to three the number of persons needing to be involved and charged as part of a drug organization, and reduces from $75,000 to $25,000 the minimum required proceeds from the sale of controlled substances by a drug organization.
• S100, which allows someone to be charged with intent to sell if they're caught with 50 or more packages of an opium derivative or a quantity valued at $300 or more.
• S1901, which requires courts to consider the underlying charges and a defendant's propensity for violent conduct when determining the defendant's eligibility for judicial diversion for alcohol or substance abuse treatment. The bill also requires treating facilities to notify local law enforcement of a defendant's placement and arrest record, and submit a security plan to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to provide for the safety of facility staff, residents and the community. Further, the bill allows a defendant to appear via video conference and makes unauthorized departure from a treatment facility a D-level felony.
• S1640, which adds synthetic opioids to the list of controlled substances in schedules 1 through 5 to "help combat the quickly moving world of designer drugs," Ortt said.
• S4239B, which expands treatment options for individuals in judicial diversion programs for opioid abuse or dependence, by sanctioning their participation in medically prescribed drug treatment plans.
• S631, which establishes assisted outpatient treatment for substance use disorders and enables courts to order it for an individual with a disorder who, due to addiction, poses a threat to himself or others.
• S2847, which requires the state health department to assign at least one investigator from the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement to each county within New York City.
The senate task force, co chaired by Sen. George A. Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Sen. Terrence Murpy, R-Yorktown, plans to host additional forums in the fall, then issue a comprehensive report with recommendations for further legislative action.
Funding was included in the 2015-2016 state budget for programs and services related to heroin/opioid abuse: $7.8 million for statewide prevention, treatment and recovery services; $450,000 to purchase Narcan kits for use by trained community volunteers; and $140,000 for Narcan kits for school staff and nurses.