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Governor calls special session on opioid abuse

Gov. Scott Walker has called a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature to vote on legislation designed to help combat the state’s opioid abuse crisis. The special session was called via Executive Order #230, which includes a list of 11 bill proposals. The legislation runs the gamut from additional funding to the Department of Justice to increase the number of criminal investigation agents, to expanding 911 immunity to include the overdose victim in potential prosecutions due to a call to the emergency number. Other bills would create a special consultation service for medical professionals to access addiction medicine specialists and add funding to help create new Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) centers.

The bills in Gov. Walker’s special session call match recommendations released earlier Thursday morning from his Task Force on Opioid Abuse, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and State Assembly Rep. John Nygren. The recommendations from the Task Force co-chairs can be read in this report. Members of the Task Force include Society representative Nameeta Dookeran, MD, and Medical Examining Board Vice-Chair Tim Westlake, MD.

Society Chief Medical Officer Donn Dexter, MD, issued this statement praising the special session call. The legislature is expected to hold hearings on the proposed bills after they are released and hold floor votes in early February.

Gov. Walker issued two additional executive orders (EO) as part of today’s opioid efforts:

  • EO #228 directs various executive branch agencies to take actions to help combat opioid and other drug abuse in areas specific to the agencies. It is anticipated that many of these action items will be included in the Governor’s 2017-2019 biennial budget proposal, which will be unveiled in February.
  • EO #229 directs the state’s Department of Health Services to apply for a federal grant of more than $7.6 million to help fund proposed programs and initiatives that were recommended in the Task Force report. The EO requires DHS to complete the application by Feb. 17, 2017.

E-mail Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government and Legal Affairs department for more information.

Back to January 5, 2017 Medigram