Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jan 2017
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2017 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Patrick Marley


Madison - Gov. Scott Walker signed seven bills Monday aimed at fighting
the state's growing heroin problem during stops around the state.

The new laws include ones that will allow drug users to call 911 about
overdoses without fear of prosecution, expand treatment alternatives and
create quicker punishments for offenders who violate the terms of their

Walker signed the bills at events in Marinette, Stevens Point, Eau Claire
and Milwaukee. The Marinette County Courthouse was chosen as one venue
because it is in the district ofstate Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), who
has taken a lead in drafting the measures. Nygren's daughter Cassie has
struggled with heroin addiction.

"Wisconsin, like many states across the country, is experiencing a
dangerous trend - an escalating number of cases of heroin use, addiction
and overdose," Walker said in a statement. "Heroin addiction does not
discriminate, and we have to take action to protect our friends, family
members and neighbors who need help."

Supporters have dubbed the bills Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education,
or HOPE.

"I know that our HOPE agenda isn't the 'silver bullet' to overcoming our
state's heroin epidemic," Nygren said in a statement. "Rather, these seven
bills are an important first step in the right direction."

The new laws will:

- -- Give people immunity from criminal prosecution for drug possession if
they bring a fellow drug user to an emergency room or call911 because they
believe the person is suffering from an overdose.

The measure does not provide immunity for drug dealing or other serious

- -- Allow any first responders to administer naloxone if they are trained.
Known by its brand name of Narcan, naloxone counteracts overdoses from
heroin and other opiates. Currently, only certain emergency medical
technicians are allowed to administer the drug, and the bill would make it
more widely available.

- -- Allow communities to create programs to dispose of prescription and
illegal drugs to curb abuse of substances that can lead to heroin

- -- Require people to show identification to pick up prescriptions that are
considered to have a high potential for abuse.

- -- Create two or three state programs to help treat heroin addicts in
high-need, rural areas at an estimated cost of $2 million a year.

- -- Add $1.5 million in funding annually for treatment alternatives and
diversion programs that focus on substance abuse treatment for those who
commit crimes.

- -- Implement "swift and certain" punishments for those who violate the
terms of their probation or parole. Advocates say making certain
punishments happen quickly helps deter those on probation from
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