This week at the State Capitol

Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate.

In-state newspapers have reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national publication reported that one rural county filled enough prescriptions over 12 months to supply 150 doses of painkillers to every person in the county.

The same conversations about the way the drug crisis is impacting the court system, police, health care workers, treatment facilities, social workers, prison officials and families are also being held in the Capitol. Those deliberations resulted bills aimed at addressing the issue, including several that took steps forward in the legislative process this week.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 14, which is aimed at getting drug dealers off the streets by strengthening penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Under the legislation, approved on a 36-0 vote, trafficking in less than two grams would be elevated to a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

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