Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law signed at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay that lawmakers hope will help combat the opioid epidemic.
One of those bills would help prosecute drug related offenses. Among other things, it provides two new assistant attorney general to help state agents and local law enforcement with drug cases. It also provides funds for family treatment treatment courts and creates evidence-based programs for substance abuse prevention services for at-risk youth.
The other bill requires health care providers who prescribe controlled substances complete certain training in best practices for providing those substances. It also requires school board to provide instruction about drug abuse awareness and prevention.
Republican Rep, John Nygren has been the lead author of those bills. He said at a press conference over the summer that they intend to continue to push for opioid legislation.
“Typically in politics it’s a one-off and you’re done, and you take a victory lap,” Nygren said. “But on an issue where you’re still losing people at a rapid rate to overdose deaths, in a world where we’re still struggling with addiction, there is no victory lap.”
Walker’s signature on the two bills today makes 30 new laws part of the HOPE agenda — a slate of bills aimed at trying to lessen the blow of an addiction crisis that killed hundreds across the state in the past year.
Dane County hasn’t been left out of that equation, County Executive Joe Parisi said at press conference today.
“In 2000, we saw a total of 13 opioid involved deaths in Dane County, in 2016 there were 85,” Parisi says.
The rate of prescription overdose involved deaths in Dane County has doubled since 2000. The rate of heroin involved deaths has nearly tripled. The opioid epidemic has strained our resources and has cost local communities millions of dollars as we try to get people the treatment and recovery they so desperately need.”
Like the state, counties are also reacting to the crisis. Today, Dane County announced it had settled on law firms to represent it in suing painkiller manufacturers. They’re hoping to recoup some of the losses they’ve accrued treating residents with opioid addictions.
They’ll join 65 other counties in Wisconsin that have sued those pharmaceutical companies, alleging they falsely advertised their products like OxyContin and Percoset. They say that false advertising led to over-prescription of addictive painkillers, and counties have had to shoulder the cost of widespread addiction.
Parisi announced today firm Baron and Bud will lead the suit.