Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Announces Schedule for Forums to Be Held Statewide

April 04, 2014

The New York State Senate Majority Coalition today announced the schedule for the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

The forums will be held statewide to solicit input on the rise in the use of heroin and opioids and to develop legislative recommendations for treating and preventing addiction and its consequences. The first forum is being held this Tuesday, April 8, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Van Nostrand Theatre of Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood Campus, 1001 Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood. Interested members of the public are invited to attend and participate in the discussion. For more information, please call (631) 665-2311. The full schedule is below.

The bipartisan task force is chaired by Senator Phil Boyle (R-C-I, Suffolk County), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Members will examine the issues and solicit input from experts and other stakeholders about addiction prevention and treatment options, the rise in heroin and opioid use, and the potential for drug-related crimes and other negative community impacts. The task force will then develop recommendations which will be used to draft legislation to address the issues raised.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Senator Boyle. “Every day we hear of one tragedy after another.  It is now time that we galvanize as a unified state to combat heroin and opioid addiction. Region by region, throughout the State of New York, we will be reaching out to every community for innovative ways to tackle this problem. We want to hear from parents, teachers, students, doctors, coaches and advocates of every shape and size to get to the core of this heroin epidemic.”

Task force members include Vice-Chair David Carlucci (D-Rockland), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities; Vice-Chair Michael Nozzolio (R-C, Fayette), Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee; Senator Greg Ball (R-C-I, Patterson), Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope), Senator Simcha Felder (D-C, Brooklyn), Senator Pat Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma), Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R, Rome), Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau), Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I-C, Staten Island), Senator William Larkin (R-C, Cornwall), Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury), Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset), Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R-C, Halfmoon), Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola), Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane), Senator Thomas O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats), Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst), Senator Patty Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton), Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), Senator Diane Savino (D, Staten Island/Brooklyn), Senator James L. Seward (R-I-C, Oneonta), Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida), and Senator Cathy Young (R-I-C, Olean).

The forum will include members of the task force, experts in the fields of education, law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse, municipal officials, and individuals directly affected by opioid abuse.

Heroin’s deadly affects are well established, and overdoses are on the rise across the state. Data released by Newsday reported that heroin “killed a record 121 people in Nassau and Suffolk in 2012 and at least 120 last year -- the two highest totals ever recorded.” The Buffalo News reports that 29 people died of heroin overdoses in Erie County in 2013, “almost a third more than the year before.” The Syracuse Post Standard reported that heroin-related deaths “have climbed rapidly in Onondaga County -- from two in 2010 to 24 in 2013.” In New York City, the Times reported that “after several years of decline,” heroin-related overdose deaths increased 84 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Due to the Senate Majority’s efforts, the recently enacted 2014-15 state budget included $2.45 million for initiatives to provide prevention, treatment and addiction services to address the growing problems of heroin and opioid abuse. Also in March, the Senate passed legislation (S6477B) to help save lives by allowing authorized health care professionals to increase public access to Narcan/Naloxone which, if timely administered, can prevent an overdose death.

            2014 Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Schedule:

Long Island:

April 8, 2014 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Suffolk County Community College Brentwood Campus, Van Nostrand Theatre, 1001 Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood, Suffolk County. The public is invited; For more information: (631) 665-2311.

Western New York:

April 15, 2014 - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Monroe County Office Building, 39 West Main Street, Rochester, Monroe County. For more information: (585) 225-3650.

May 23, 2014 – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: 2nd Floor Board Room of the Batavia City Hall, 1 Batavia Center, Batavia, Genesee County. For more information: (716) 631-8695.

Central New York:

April 15, 2014 - 5 to 7 p.m.: 1st Floor Conference Room, State Office Building,  207 Genesee Street , Utica, Oneida County. For more information: (315) 793-9072; and

May 8, 2014 - 12:30 p.m. registration, forum held from 1 to 3 p.m.: Auburn City Hall Chambers, 24 South Street, Auburn, Cayuga County. For more information: (315) 568-9816.

Capital District:

April 23, 2014 - 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Hudson Valley Community College, Bulmer Telecommunications Center (BTC) Auditorium, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy, Rensselaer County. For more information: (518) 455-2381.

Hudson Valley:

April 24, 2014 - 6 p.m.: Paladin Center Tactical Training Facility, 39 Seminary Hill Rd., Carmel Hamlet, Putnam County. For more information: (845) 531-9796;

May 15, 2014 - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Newburgh Armory Unity Center, 321 South William Street, Newburgh, Orange County. For more information: (845) 576-1270; and

May 27, 2014- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Valley Cottage Library, 110 New York 303, Valley Cottage, Rockland County. For more information: (845) 623-3627.

North Country:

April 25, 2014 - 10 a.m.: Clinton County Government Center, 137 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, Clinton County. For more information: (518) 455-2811.

April 25, 2014 - 1 p.m.: 11th Floor Conference Room of the State Office Building, 317 Washington Street, Watertown, Jefferson County. For more information: (315) 782-3418

Southern Tier:

April 28, 2014 - 9:30 a.m.: SUNY Oneonta, 108 Ravine Pkwy, Oneonta, Otsego County. For more information: (607) 432-5524;

May 16, 2014: - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Elmira College, Hamilton Hall, Elmira.  For more information: (607) 735-9671; and

June 4, 2014 – 1 to 3 p.m.: Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus County Reservation. For more information:  (518) 455-3563.

New York City:

May 1, 2014 - 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Senate Hearing Room, 19th Floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan. For more information: (718) 238-6044.

Staten Island:

May 2, 2014 - 1 to 4 p.m.: Jewish Community Center of Staten Island auditorium, 1466 Manor Rd., Staten Island. For more information: (518) 455-3215.


May 9, 2014 - 2 to 4 p.m.: Legislative Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, Sullivan County Government Center, 100 North Street, Monticello, Sullivan County. For more information: (845) 344-3311.

Southern Tier:

June 4, 2014 – 1 to 3 p.m.: Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus County Reservation. For more information:  (518) 455-3563 

Senate Task Force Vice-Chair David Carlucci (D-Rockland) said: “We can no longer ignore the fact that there exists a frightening heroin epidemic that is plaguing our communities and putting our children at risk.  Heroin does not discriminate and sadly affects too many New Yorkers irrespective of all backgrounds. Instead of turning a blind eye to a growing problem, now is the time to address solutions that will enable us to focus on prevention and treatment options for those who have fallen prey to addiction.  This bipartisan task force will allow us to begin having a thoughtful discussion and solicit suggestions on how we can develop a comprehensive approach to rid ourselves from this deadly drug.”

Senate Task Force Vice-Chair Mike Nozzolio (R-C, Fayette) said: “The use of highly addictive opioid-based narcotics, such as heroin, is the fastest growing epidemic in our nation. It crosses all ethnic, age, and socioeconomic boundaries and has now reached our local towns and villages. As Vice Co-Chairman of the newly created Heroin Task Force, I will be reaching out to community leaders, members of law enforcement, health care professionals as well as parents and teachers to discuss ways we can prevent our young people from falling prey to the devastating effects of this and other opioid drugs.”

Senator Greg Ball (R-C-I, Patterson) said: “The epidemic of heroin addiction plaguing our communities must be confronted head-on. It is sickening to read and hear of the countless deaths in our community. We must get to the kids before it’s too late; talk is cheap, and what is needed is funding and resources. As legislators, we must do everything in our power to protect our children from drug addiction.”

Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope) said: “The growing epidemic of heroin use throughout New York State is alarming. It transcends regions, race, gender and economic status. We must do everything in our power to help stop this highly accessible and addictive drug from poisoning our communities.  Our focus must be on education, treatment and enforcement.  I am ready to go to work with my Senate colleagues to spread awareness of this epidemic, and collect the thoughts and suggestions from experts in this field to help reduce this epidemic.”

Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) said: “We must address the alarming rise in heroin and opiate related deaths.  As the former Sheriff of Erie County and a New York State Trooper, I have seen the devastating impact drug abuse and addiction can have on individuals, families and communities.  This is both a health and public safety crisis and I am anxious to hear from experts on addiction prevention and treatment so that we may tackle this issue head-on.  I look forward to working with members of the task force to save lives and protect our communities.” 

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) said: “I look forward to working with my colleagues to expand upon the I-STOP legislation to reduce drug addiction and abuse.  My district has been witness to the increase of heroin and painkillers causing deaths in our youngsters and destroying families. We must start to reverse these numbers and save lives here in New York.”

Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) said: “We need to solve this dilemma: How do we allow people to continue receiving opiates for legitimate medical reasons, but stop them from becoming addicts? The solution, I think, will be a combination of approaches: Education and early intervention, drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration and tougher sentencing laws. I look forward to working with my colleagues and getting input from stakeholders so we can help decrease recidivism, get help for those who will use it, and prevent drug dealers from getting comfortable in our area.”

Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau County) said: “As heroin and opioid addiction continues to plague our communities, I’m eager to work with the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction to explore ways to address the crisis and to begin to reverse the deadly problem.  As we listen to experts and those in the field, it will allow us to craft a comprehensive approach to effectively treating both the root causes and the symptoms of addiction.  Addicts must have access to treatment and prevention measures to stem their habit, while at the same time we need to find safe and effective solutions to the overall causes of addiction and dependency.  The task force will solicit ideas and suggestions from all stakeholders as together we work to curb this deadly societal scourge.  A productive dialogue is an important next step in this process.”

Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I-C, Staten Island) said: “Given the catastrophic effects of the growing heroin and opioid epidemic, we hope these regional forums will help us gain a better understanding of this mushrooming crisis which is being called a state-wide medical emergency. While there is no magic bullet and there will always be people struggling with addiction, I believe we can turn the tide on this epidemic by changing attitudes and implementing policies, while supporting services for prevention and treatment.”

Senator Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall) said: “Heroin is decimating our communities.  It impacts families, schools, and neighborhoods and spares no one.  It is time for New York to take an in-depth look at this drug, along with other highly addictive opioids, and formulate the best way to address these devastating addictions.  This new task force will allow us the means to do just that.” 

Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) said: “Heroin and opioid abuse is a growing problem affecting all regions of New York State and cutting across many demographics. Addiction ruins the lives of users and devastates families and friends who struggle in vain to help.  As the epidemic grows, the cost to taxpayers does as well.  Our goal is to develop a comprehensive plan with the help of experts in various fields, including law enforcement and drug treatment, that deters use, prevents addiction and ensures help is available to those needing it.”

Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset) said: “The surge of heroin use is creating a statewide epidemic. It is an extremely powerful and addictive drug that doesn’t discriminate when it comes to enslaving people to addiction. We need to aggressively fight back to curb this widespread deadly problem.”

Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R-C, Halfmoon) said: “Heroin and opioid abuse are on the rise here in New York and across much of the northeastern United States. Our Task Force will take positive, proactive steps to learn more about the heroin and opioid abuse crisis, examine community-based solutions and develop a bi-partisan action plan for state government to address this challenge. Behind every statistic of heroin and opioid abuse is a soul that needs our help to escape the nightmare of addiction. I am committed to working with Task Force Chair Phil Boyle, and all of my Senate colleagues, to make a positive difference.”

Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola) said: “The rapidly growing heroin epidemic is destroying lives and poisoning our communities.  Through these hearings, we will work together with experts and other community stakeholders to develop new solutions which will help prevent tragedies and stop this growing epidemic.”

Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) said: “The Senate is going to great lengths to make sure that the problem of heroin addiction in our society is not ignored.  This Task Force will study what’s happening in New York today and it will present policy reforms to reduce addictions and the associated problems they cause.  This will be a great collaborative effort.”

Senator Tom O'Mara (R-C, Big Flats) said: “I look forward to the opportunities this new task force will provide to work with my legislative colleagues to zero in on the heroin epidemic.  We’ll be working to determine the most effective combination of law enforcement, awareness and education, and treatment and prevention to try to stop the spread of heroin, better protect our communities and save lives.”

Senator Patricia Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton) said: “According to law enforcement officials in the regions I represent, heroin—a drug that was once the hardest to get—is now one of the easiest and most readily available. It’s clear that we need to take action and stop the use of heroin before the problem grows even larger.  I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues as a part of the task force to develop initiatives and measures that can help put a stop to the use of this deadly drug.”

Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester) said: “It’s very concerning to me, not only as a State Senator but as a father of three, to see the recent increase in heroin usage and addiction in our state. We need to do a better job of educating the public, particularly our youth, about the dangers of heroin and all other dangerous recreational opioids. It’s my hope that this task force will help us create measures to prevent future drug addiction.”

Senator Diane Savino (D, Staten Island/Brooklyn) said: “Heroin and opioids have been and are an increasing problem in Staten Island and south Brooklyn, we appreciate the Senate and especially Senator Boyle's efforts to highlight the problem.”   

Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) said: “It is important that we formulate a multi-prong strategy that will break the stranglehold heroin has on all social, economic, and geographic sectors of our state.  This series of statewide forums, featuring a diverse group of expert stakeholders, will play a vital role as we develop our line of attack against this growing epidemic.”

Senator Cathy Young (R-I-C, Olean) said: “The scourge of heroin abuse in our communities is a growing epidemic that is destroying families and ruining lives at an increasingly frequent and alarming rate. Abuse is on the rise across the state with younger and younger children becoming addicted. In the Senate, we recognize the seriousness of this problem and the need for a more proactive approach to tackling heroin trafficking and abuse now. I look forward to these forums and the Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction getting to work immediately so that we can begin turning the tide and helping those affected by this terribly destructive drug.”