MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin State Assembly passed four bills today aimed at reducing the number of heroin-related deaths in Wisconsin.
Focused on treatment and prevention rather than punishment, the HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education) package passed with unanimous support.
Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) wrote the legislation, after years of dealing with his own daughter's heroin addiction.
Republicans and Democrats alike rallied around the four bills.
"Addiction is something that you deal with quietly and you aren't in the system until it's too late," said Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland), who admitted to having her own addiction to alcohol while speaking on the Assembly floor.
The bills aim to change that. One would allow anyone to administer the drug Narcan to bring people out of heroin overdoses, while another would give legal immunity to drug users who call for emergency medical help in the event of an overdose.
The other bills would allow communities to establish prescription drug drop-off sites and require people to show identification when picking up prescription drugs.
"We've heard from law enforcement that this is a problem. They would like to know who is picking it up and when," said Rep. Warren Petryk (R-Eleva), who co-authored that bill.
Rep. Nygren admits these bills are just a starting point and says tackling the widespread problem of doctors over-prescribing opiates, such as Oxycontin, must come next.
"Yes, that conversation has been had, because I believe in probably 90 percent of these tragic stories, prescription drugs has been the starting point," said Rep. Nygren.
The Assembly also passed legislation that would allow Wisconsin domestic abuse victims to obtain restraining orders against people who live in other states.
"It would ensure that there's jurisdiction when the abuse is coming from somewhere not in Wisconsin, so, when the abuse crosses state lines through technological means, it would ensure that our courts have the authority to act in those situations," said Tony Gibart, Policy Coordinator for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"I'm in Rock County, I'm right on the state line for example, so you could have someone that was just over in a border situation," said Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), who authored the legislation.
Those technological means include things like text messaging and Facebook, where a lot of that harassment occurs, according to Gibart.
The bills all now move on to the Wisconsin Senate.
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