House Democrats have long been working on solutions to the opioid crisis

(May 23) – Today, Gov. Polis signed a package of bills that are part of House Democrats’ efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

First, Gov. Polis signed HB19-1009 sponsored by Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.

“This law is focused on people who are going through substance use recovery and are at the end of that spectrum,” said Rep. Kennedy. “Through this bill, we are trying to reintegrate these folks back into the community and break down the barriers they face, like access to housing.”

“The majority of people with a substance use disorder are currently in recovery today. Supporting recovery is the right thing to do, costing the state far less in the long run,” said Rep. Singer, when the bill passed the House. “This will play a huge role in ending the opioid crisis.”

The new law improves support for individuals recovering from substance use disorders by expanding housing assistance for people transitioning out of treatment, increasing oversight of recovery residences to ensure high quality care and investing in recovery services for people who have sought care and treatment.

Gov. Polis then signed SB19-008, Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Jonathan Singer’s common sense bill that examines alternatives to incarceration for individuals who need treatment for addiction instead of sitting in jail for drug-related offenses. SB19-008 is a product of the opioid interim committee and also looks to provide medication-assistance treatment (MAT) to individuals who may already be incarcerated.

“We need to think collaboratively and strategically in order to address this crisis” said Rep. Kennedy. “By providing treatment, we can increase the likelihood that people struggling with addiction released from incarceration will be able to rebuild their lives and start contributing to our community once again.”

“Coloradans are literally dying in jail because they are not getting the appropriate treatment for their substance use disorder,” said Rep. Singer, D-Boulder. “This law will help those struggling with addiction become productive members of society, not return as burdens to themselves, their families and taxpayers. I’m thankful to the counselors, law enforcement, my colleagues and people across the state who came to support this bill.”

Gov. Polis then signed SB19-227, sponsored by Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. This bill authorizes schools to obtain a supply of opiate antagonists, specifies that a licensed or certified hospital may be used as a clean syringe exchange site, creates the opiate antagonist purchase fund and expands the household medication take-back program in the Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Addiction is a public health issue and harm reduction is an important and vital step to combating this epidemic in our communities. This new law will save lives and expand treatment and recovery options across Colorado,” said Rep. Herod.

Finally, Gov. Polis signed SB19-228, Rep. Bri Buentello’s bill requiring certain health care providers who have prescriptive authority to complete substance use disorder training as part of their continuing education and prohibiting a physician or physician assistant from accepting any direct or indirect benefits for prescribing a specific medication.

“This new law will give Southern Colorado more of the tools we need to address the opioid crisis, prevent addiction and give people more access to treatment and recovery” said Rep. Buentello, D-Pueblo.

SB19-228 also requires a prescription for an opioid for outpatient use to bear a warning label; creates several grant programs to improve public awareness of the dangers of substance use disorders; improves youth treatment and pre-and-postnatal care for women. In addition, the bill introduces several other measures aimed at substance use disorders prevention.

The Governor also signed HB19-1193 sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod to provide behavioral health support for high-risk families.

“We can’t incarcerate our way out of this crisis,” said Rep. Herod, D-Denver. “By providing treatment, we can increase the likelihood that moms struggling with addiction will be able to rebuild their lives and take care of their children in a healthy and loving way.”

HB19-1193 expands existing programs that provide access to substance use disorder treatment to pregnant and parenting women. This bill creates a child care pilot program for parenting women engaged in substance use disorder treatment.

All of these bills were signed at the Sobriety House in Denver.

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