State Rep. Brittany Pettersen was pleased after Gov. John Hickenlooper finished his State of the State address Thursday. He, Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran agreed with her: Something must be done about Colorado’s opioid abuse epidemic.
Each of the leaders made finding answers a priority.
“We really have all of our leaders at the table and willing to ensure we’re actually working together to solve this problem,” Pettersen said outside the House chamber minutes after Hickenlooper spoke.
The governor said, “We need to halt the opioid epidemic that continues to destroy lives and families, and disproportionately affects our rural communities.”
Pettersen requested and lead a bipartisan committee that heard hours of testimony this summer to propose six bills that Democrats and Republicans, so far, seem to agree on, at least in spirit. The highlights are a pilot program to offer a supervised injection location for drug users and limiting most opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply.
Pettersen said the committee worked “tirelessly” to find bipartisan solutions so the legislative package has the best chance to pass, rather than wait another year as people die and the epidemic worsens.
“This is really about keeping people alive today, to draw them out of the shadows and increase the likelihood they actually get help,” she said this week.
According to the House Democratic press office the bills:
The abuse of hard drugs is being called a crisis in the state, and overdose deaths have doubled since 2000. Colorado has the second-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country, behind Oregon.
Last year, the legislature passed Senate Bill 74 to create a pilot program in Pueblo and Routt counties, where heroin deaths have soared, as well as Senate Bill 193 to use $1 million of marijuana tax money for a substance abuse research center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Other members of the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee were Reps. Perry Buck, R-Windsor; Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood; Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo; Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont; and Sens. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs; Irene Aguilar, D-Denver; Cheri Jahn, I-Wheat Ridge; Kevin Priola, R-Henderson; and Jack Tate, R-Centennial.
The committee’s final report can be read by clicking here.