FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — After listening to heart-wrenching stories from residents, volunteers and addiction advocates at January's legislative forum on opiate addiction, State Reps. David Rutigliano (R-Trumbull), Brenda Kupchick (R-Fairfield), Laura Devlin (R-Fairfield) and Ben McGorty (R-Shelton) are putting concepts into bill proposal requests for the new legislative session.
The new session began on Feb. 3.
First-term legislator J.P. Sredzinski (R-Monroe) also signed onto the proposals. He's on the Public Safety & Security Committee and also a 911 dispatch supervisor for the Town of Stratford.
There have been rapid increases in heroin use and prescription painkiller abuse, and states are mobilizing to find ways to stop the epidemic. There have been many opiate-related deaths in the region, and the federal government has designated Fairfield County a "high intensity drug trafficking area."
In 2012, there were 195 fatal heroin, morphine or codeine overdoses in Connecticut. In 2013, the number jumped to 284, and in 2014, it rose to 347.
"We owe it our constituents to be proactive about this epidemic," Rutigliano said. "These proposals look at the many facets of opiate addiction and the ambiguities in state law."
Kupchick said, "I've been personally impacted by this issue and want to help families and their addicted loved ones before it's too late."
Here are a few of the bill proposal requests they plan to submit:
- advocating drug education health education courses in earlier grades in schools
- prohibiting doctors from prescribing an excessive amount of medication when not necessary for patient treatment
- establishing a crime of murder by sale of an opiod controlled substance, to hold drug dealers liable when a sale results in the death of the purchaser
- allowing for drug "dropboxes" in pharmacies, to accept unused drugs
McGorty said the forum was an educational for him. "It was important to hear from those that are victims of this horrible drug come out and tell their stories."
"While these proposals being submitted to the General Assembly certainly will not fix all the problems that exist, my hope is that progress can be made because any progress results in saving lives," Sredzinski added.
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