Hartford – Senate & House Republicans are calling on the governor and Democrat lawmakers to come together to form a bipartisan working group to develop a strategy to tackle the devastating rise in heroin abuse and opioid overdoses in Connecticut.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) wrote to Governor Dannel P. Malloy and legislative leaders requesting that together they immediately form a bipartisan working group to assess the state’s needs to prevent and treat opioid abuse specifically. The group would also be tasked with formulating a bipartisan legislative proposal to implement a focused strategy to tackle opioid abuse this legislative session.
Republicans hope to include many stakeholders in the working group, including but not limited to all four legislative caucuses, the governor’s office, public health officials, substance abuse treatment providers, state mental health experts, the Insurance Association, police chiefs and municipal leaders.
“This cannot be a conversation among only lawmakers, just like it cannot be a conversation among only public health officials, or a conversation among only law enforcement. It must be a conversation among all stakeholders. Together we need an open dialogue and we can’t wait any longer,” they wrote.
The Republican lawmakers also explained the need for a group dedicated to combating opioid use specifically.
“The state’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Council has not taken an active role in addressing the specific problems associated with opioid abuse. They meet four times a year. The legislature needs to take the bull by the horns. This is too important.”
In their letter, the Republican leaders applauded Governor Malloy and Representative Roberta Willis (D-64) for proposing legislation and taking leadership roles in helping to begin the conversation on what needs to be done in Connecticut. They also stated that they look forward to learning more about Gov. Malloy’s plans as he plans to announce further details next week.
The Republican leaders highlighted specific proposals and ideas that need to be explored further including:
- Addressing both the causes and effects of opioid abuse.
- Developing ways to prevent prescription drugs from winding up in the wrong hands.
- Looking at what obstacles may deter the distribution of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids in the event of an overdose.
- Discussing ways to make substance abuse treatment more affordable and accessible.
- Enhancing education and monitoring of drug use.
- Looking at what other states are doing to connect patients to support systems.
“Now it is time for lawmakers and invested stakeholders to have an opportunity to work collaboratively,” wrote Fasano and Klarides. “We may not have all the answers, but collectively we can address this public health crisis. We must act now.”