Senate Approves Final Special Session Bills Targeting Opioids

June 29, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

June 15, Wisconsin Health News 

The Senate approved the final two proposals that are part of a special legislative session on opioids that Gov. Scott Walker called in January. 

All 11 proposals that are part of that session have now passed the Legislature and await Walker's signature to become law. 

The bills were based on recommendations from an interim report released in January by the Governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse, which was chaired by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. 

"We have a lot of work left to do on a massive epidemic that's sweeping our state," said Ashland Democratic Sen. Janet Bewley, who served on the task force as well. "We are learning that it's even bigger and more profound than we ever thought." 

The Senate approved a proposal Tuesday that would provide limited legal immunity to overdose victims. Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, was the sole no vote.  

The chamber also approved a bill allowing for families and others to involuntarily commit a person with drug dependence. 

The Senate also voted down along party lines a Democratic amendment to the latter proposal requesting the attorney general to consider filing a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. A few states, like Ohio, have filed lawsuits against drugmakers.  

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, predicted that a class action lawsuit against drugmakers "is coming. It's just a matter of time...and I'm sure we'll be part of that at some point." He moved to reject the proposal as he didn't want it tied with the bill.  

See a list of the special session bills.

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