UDPATE: Assembly committee passes heroin bills - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Assembly committee passes package of heroin legislation


MADISON (WKOW) -- The parents of children lost to heroin addiction converged on the state capitol Thursday to voice their support for a package of legislation aimed at preventing more deaths.   The three bills were authored by a state legislator whose own daughter is a recovering addict.

Rep. John Nygren presented his HOPE legislation package at a public hearing in front of the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice.  HOPE stands for Heroin Opiate Education and Prevention.  He had some very emotional support for it.

"My daughter was found dead at a Super 8 motel in Hudson on May 18th," said Karen Hale, who lost her 21 year-old daughter Alysa to a heroin overdose.  "I have gone to seven funerals in my town of young people, overdosing, in less than one year." 

Alex Hoffman told a similar story about his son, Shea.

"And I watched him die.  That was the most horrible experience of my life," said Hoffman.

Those parents hope that other families can be spared their pain in the future.

"Every angle that we've looked at on this issue is that this is an opportunity for us to save lives and we're gonna do it in as safe a manner as we possibly can," said Rep. Nygren, whose own daughter Cassie is a recovering addict.

One of the three bills would mandate that all emergency medical technicians (EMTs) carry and be allowed to administer the drug Naloxone or Narcan as its more commonly known, which is given to people suffering from an opiate overdose in order to keep them from dying.

"We do have Narcan in our bags but we currently cannot use it right now either.  We have to wait for our ambulance and ELS to come," said Mahlon Mitchell, a City of Madison EMT/Firefighter who also serves as the President of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association.

The bill would also allow anyone to administer the drug to another person, as long as they have a prescription to do so.

"Its not harmful," said Dr. Mark Miller, an addiction specialist with Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc.  "No one dies from Narcan.  They die from not getting Narcan."

Another bill would allow a drug user to seek emergency medical help for a friend who has overdosed, without the fear of being arrested for using or possessing drugs.  Karen Hale says such a law could have saved her daughter's life.

"Instead of the young men calling for help, 911, they laid her on the bed and they left.  And they left her to die," said Hale. 

The third bill would allow communities to set up drug drop-off sites that would be regulated by the Department of Justice.  All three bills passed the committee and will likely be on the calendar for the full Assembly next week.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A legislative committee is set to take public comments on a package of bills designed to combat heroin addiction.

Rep. John Nygren, a Marinette Republican whose daughter has struggled with heroin addiction, introduced the proposals. One bill would allow trained first responders, police officers and firefighters to administer Narcan, a drug that counters the effects of a heroin overdose.

Another would provide limited immunity for people who get medical help for someone suffering from an overdose.

A third would allow the state Justice Department as well as municipal governments to authorize people to run drug disposal programs.

The Assembly's criminal justice committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the measures Thursday.

The committee is expected to vote on whether to pass the proposals on to the full body.

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