Ky. bill to strengthen heroin penalties fails

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (FOX19) - A bill to strengthen penalties for heroin dealers in Kentucky ran out of time.

The bill would have charged heroin dealers with homicide if their drugs kill someone. Senate bill 5 would also provide additional funding for the treatment of addicts.

However, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned for the year at midnight on Wednesday and the bill expired.

FOX19 spoke with a couple of groups attempting to fight the drug problem in Northern Kentucky. Several groups are taking matters into their own hands to help save lives.

Charlotte Wethington knows all too well the heartbreak this drug can have on a family. Her son Casey died more than ten years ago from a heroin overdose.

"As long as we keep it a secret, people are going to continue to die from this disease," said Wethington.

Wethington is a recovery advocate for Transitions. She says everyday she hears just how bad this drug is in Northern Kentucky. She found out some startling data from three of their programs.

"We had 83 people on the waiting list, 81 of those were addicted to heroin," said Wethington.

Bonnie Hedrick is also heavily involved in reducing drug use. She says the first thing she did Wednesday morning was check her email to see the status of Senate bill 5.

"We cannot wait another year waiting to work on it next session. Another 400, primarily young people will be dead by then," said Hedrick.

So with help from the state in question, what's next?

One step is opening clinics that provide rescue kits of the overdose reversal drug Naloxone. Wethington says there's currently two clinics open now in Falmouth and Covington where prescribed, addicted patients can get help.

Part of that includes working with local doctors who can prescribe different drugs for treatment.

"What we are going to be doing now is making a consorted effort to work within our existing medical system, within physician's offices to get physicians prescribing Naloxone," said Hedrick.

Wethington says they're also scheduling more and more town hall meetings to educate families seeking any advice.

"Part of our plan is to empower families and let them know that there are things that they can do," said Wethington.

The next town hall meeting is Thursday night at Campbell County High School.

Now lawmakers plan to ask Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session to get the bill passed. State officials estimate a special session would cost taxpayers about $60,000 per day.

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