Senate Passes Bills Recommended by Heroin Task Force
Measures Will Help Address Growing Heroin and Opioid Use in New York
The New York State Senate today passed 23 bills to address issues
surrounding the increase in heroin and opioid abuse, addiction, and related
crimes in New York. The bills are part of a comprehensive legislative
package proposed by the bipartisan New York State Senate Joint Task Force
on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in a report released in May.
The bill package passed today begins the legislative response laid
out in the report to prevent drug abuse and overdoses; increase the
availability and efficacy of addiction treatment; and enhance the tools
provided to law enforcement to keep heroin off the streets.
In March 2014, New York State Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leaders
Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein created the Joint Task Force on Heroin and
Opioid Addiction to examine the alarming rise in use of heroin and opioids
that has claimed lives and hurt families across New York State. The task
force is chaired by Senator Phil Boyle (R-C-I, Suffolk County), Chairman of
the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, along with Vice-Chair
David Carlucci (D-Rockland), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental
Health and Developmental Disabilities; and Vice-Chair Michael Nozzolio
(R-C, Fayette), Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee.
The task force report released last month proposed a package of bills
to target the prevention, treatment, and enforcement issues raised during
extensive testimony provided by dozens of experts, parents, and concerned
New Yorkers during 18 forums held throughout the state.
Senator Boyle said, “As a Heroin Task Force, we hosted 18 forums
across the state, heard from 276 panelists, had over 2,300 attendees, and
listened to over 60 hours of testimony. The information and insights we
have gained as a result of these forums, and the added input from countless
New Yorkers affected by this epidemic, has helped us craft these 23 pieces
of legislation. These bills supported by Republicans and Democrats will
encourage prevention, enhance treatment options and strengthen law
enforcement as we combat this unprecedented epidemic. By working together,
across party lines, we will save lives and prevent tragedies.”
Senator Carlucci said, “By passing these critical pieces of
legislation we made sure to address the fact that there exists a
frightening heroin epidemic that is plaguing our communities and putting
our children at risk. This multipronged approach will save lives by
focusing on recovery and prevention while closing a loophole in our current
system that lets victims fall through the cracks.”
Senator Nozzolio said, “The heroin epidemic is destroying countless
lives and families across our state and nation. The legislation proposed by
the Senate Task Force focuses on providing additional resources for the
prevention of drug abuse and the treatment of those addicted, while giving
law enforcement officials the tools they need to prosecute criminals who
are spreading heroin in our local communities. The adoption of this
legislation represents an important first step towards fighting the heroin
epidemic, which has become all too prevalent in our suburbs, small cities
and rural areas.”
One of the bills (S7661), sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R,
Nassau), would increase access to the heroin overdose antidote naloxone by
allowing it to be possessed and administered in schools and other
educational institutions. Long Island addiction experts testified to the
task force that they are counseling heroin users as young as 12 years old.
Having naloxone in schools could help save the life of a child in the event
of an overdose.
The Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin last week reported that
firefighters have used naloxone to save seven lives in the last two months
alone. Recently, the NYPD reported it would soon be equipping officers in
precincts citywide with naloxone to combat the spike in heroin overdoses.
The task force bills passed today include:
Preventing Opioid Abuse and Overdoses
· Preventing opioid overdoses in schools (S7661, Hannon): Clarifies
that school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services
(BOCES) programs, charter schools, and other educational entities may
possess and administer naloxone to treat opioid overdoses, and will
be protected by Good Samaritan laws.
· Increasing the effectiveness of overdose prevention (S7649A,
Marchione): Provides that naloxone kits distributed through an opioid
overdose prevention program must include an informational card with
instructions on steps to take following administration, as well as
information on how to access addiction treatment and support
services. Opioid overdose prevention programs provide those at risk
of an overdose, their family members and their friends with naloxone
kits and training on proper administration.
· Limiting prescriptions for acute pain (S2949A, Hannon): Limits the
number of Schedule II and III controlled substances prescribed for
acute pain to a 10-day supply to prevent excess pharmaceuticals from
being dispensed, and therefore reduce the risk of diversion. This
restriction would not apply to the treatment of cancer pain, chronic
pain or palliative care. Further, the bill provides that only one
co-payment may be charged for a 30-day supply.
· Increasing public awareness (S7654, Boyle): Requires the Office of
Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Department of
Health (DOH) to establish the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Pain
Medication Addiction Awareness and Education Program. The program
would utilize social and mass media to reduce the stigma associated
with drug addiction, while increasing public’s knowledge about the
dangers of opioid and heroin abuse, the signs of addiction, and
relevant programs and resources.
· Establishing school drug prevention programs (S7653, Martins): Adds
age-appropriate information about the dangers of illegal drug use to
junior high school and high school health class curriculums.
· Promoting pharmaceutical take-back events (S6691, Boyle): Requires
OASAS to post guidelines and requirements for conducting a
pharmaceutical collection event on its website. According to the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA),
nearly 70 percent of those who first abuse prescription drugs get the
pills from a friend or relative. Facilitating proper and timely
disposal of unused narcotics helps to reduce the danger of diversion.
· Ensuring prescribing practitioners stay abreast of best practices (
S7660, Hannon and Maziarz): Creates a continuing medical education
program for practitioners with prescribing privileges. DOH and the
State Education Department (SED) would establish standards for three
hours of biennial instruction on topics including Internet System for
Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) requirements, pain management,
appropriate prescribing, acute pain management, palliative medicine,
addiction screening and treatment, and end-of-life care.
Increasing the Availability and Efficacy of Addiction Treatment
· Creating a new model of detoxification and transitional services (
S2948, Hannon): Establishes the Opioid Treatment and Hospital
Diversion Demonstration Program, requiring the development of a new
model of detoxification and transitional services for individuals
seeking to recover from opioid addiction that reduces reliance on
emergency room services.
· Establishing a relapse prevention demonstration program (S7650,
Carlucci): Creates a Wraparound Services Demonstration Program
through which OASAS would provide case management or referral
services for nine months to individuals who successfully complete
substance abuse treatment programs. These community supports -
access to which is intended to prevent a relapse - include
educational resources, peer-to-peer support groups, social services
and family services and counseling, employment support and counseling
transportation assistance, medical services, legal services,
financial services, and child care services.
· Enabling parents to require children to undergo treatment (S7652A,
Martins): Provides that a parent or guardian may petition to have a
minor child designated as a Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) due
to a substance use disorder, and that a court may require a PINS
child to undergo substance abuse treatment.
· Establishing assisted outpatient treatment for substance use
disorders (S7651A, Carlucci): Enables a court to order Assisted
Outpatient Treatment (AOT) for an individual with a substance use
disorder who, due to his or her addiction, poses a threat to him or
herself or others.
· Promoting the affordability of substance abuse services (S7662A,
Seward, Hannon, Martins and Ritchie): Improves the utilization review
process for determining insurance coverage for substance abuse
treatment disorders, and requires insurers to continue to provide
coverage throughout the appeals process.
Providing Additional Resources to Law Enforcement
· Studying the conversion of correctional facilities to treatment
centers (S7655A, Boyle and Nozzolio): Directs OASAS and the
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to study
the feasibility of converting closed correctional facilities to
provide treatment for substance use disorders. Agencies would
examine the feasibility of such centers providing both inpatient
residential and outpatient care.
· Establishing the crime of homicide by sale of an opioid controlled
substance (S7657, Robach): Creates an A-I felony for the unlawful
transportation or sale of an opioid that causes the death of another.
· Restricting drug dealers from participating in the SHOCK
incarceration program (S7656, Nozzolio): Holds drug dealers
accountable by preventing participation in the SHOCK incarceration
program – under which young adults receive substance abuse treatment,
academic education, and other services to promote reintegration – by
individuals convicted of a A-II felony drug offense, except if he or
she tests positive for a controlled substance upon arraignment.
· Creating Drug-Free Zones around treatment facilities (S1388, Skelos):
Establishes a B felony for the sale of a controlled substance within
1,000 feet of a drug or alcohol treatment center or methadone clinic.
· Improving safety at judicial diversion programs (S1879A, Bonacic):
Requires a court, in determining a defendant's eligibility for a
judicial diversion program for alcohol or substance abuse treatment,
to consider the underlying charges and the defendant's propensity for
violent conduct. The bill also requires the facility treating a
defendant under this diversion program to notify the local law
enforcement of the defendant's placement and arrest record, and to
submit a security plan to the Division of Criminal Justice Services
(DCJS) to provide for the safety of staff, residents and the
community. Finally, this bill allows a defendant to appear via video
conference, and makes unauthorized departure from a rehabilitation
facility a D felony.
· Reallocating funds from asset forfeitures (S7658, Nozzolio): Reduces
the state share of certain asset forfeitures to increase allocations
for the reimbursement of expenses incurred by localities for
investigation and prosecution, and provides additional monies for the
Chemical Dependence Service Fund.
· Expanding the crime of operating as a major trafficker (S7663,
Nozzolio): Facilitates convictions for operating as a major
trafficker by reducing the number of people that must have
participated from four to three, and lowering the minimum required
proceeds from the sale of controlled substances during a 12-month
period from $75,000 to $25,000.
· Establishing the crime of transporting an opioid controlled substance
(S7659, Boyle): Allows prosecution for a new crime when an individual
unlawfully transports an opioid any distance greater than five miles
within the state, or from one county to another county within the
state, to address diversion and distribution of heroin and
· Facilitating the conviction of drug dealers (S7169, Boyle): Provides
that possession of 50 or more packages of a Schedule I opium
derivative, or possession of $300 or more worth of such drugs, is
presumptive evidence of a person’s intent to sell.
· Establishing criminal penalties for the theft of blank official New
York State prescription forms (S2940, Hannon): Expands grand larceny
in the fourth degree to include the theft of a blank official New
York State prescription form. This bill would also redefine criminal
possession of stolen property in the fourth degree to include the
possession of a stolen New York State prescription form, and create
an A misdemeanor of criminal possession of a prescription form.
· Prosecuting acts by street gangs (S4444A, Golden): Creates the
Criminal Street Gang Enforcement and Prevention Act to provide a
comprehensive approach to protecting the public from gang-related
crimes and violence, including those that relate to drug trafficking,
and establishing the criminal street gang prevention fund.
Members of the bipartisan task force include Senator Greg Ball
(R-C-I, Patterson), Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope), Senator
Simcha Felder (D-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 Senate today also passed the following bills related to
curtailing drug use in New York:
- S2447, sponsored by Senator Jeff Klein (D, Bronx): gives state drug and
law enforcement agencies and individuals the another tool to combat the
quickly moving world of designer drugs by closing a loophole that allows
manufacturers to avoid prosecution by making minor chemical alterations to
- S2173A, sponsored by Senator Golden: protects the safety of children and
their families by providing enhanced penalties for the sale of controlled
substances in playgrounds and park grounds.
- S3289, sponsored by Senator O’Mara: makes the penalties for the
possession and or sale of methamphetamine similar to that of the penalties
for possession and/or sale of heroin and cocaine.
- S3407B, sponsored by Senator Klein: penalizes those who knowingly
maintain a building in a fortified condition that is used to manufacture,
package or distribute controlled substances or marihuana.
- S4652B, sponsored by Senator Valesky: implements an electronic tracking
system on the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, or ephedrine.
This system will communicate in real time, across state lines and produce a
stop sale notification to the seller of the product.
- S3985A, sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti (R-I, North Buffalo):
establishes a demonstration drug disposal program in representative rural,
suburban and urban areas of the state in order to provide data that could
be used to determine the most effective methods of disposal.
- S7125, sponsored by Senator Hannon: helps prevent the abuse and diversion
of opioid analgesic drugs by ensuring that opioid analgesic drugs that
incorporate abuse-deterrent technologies are dispensed whenever possible.
The bills have been sent to the Assembly, with the exception of
S3985A, which has received final passage, and will be sent to the Governor