Politics

FRANKFORT — Nearly 130 demonstrators calling for action against the growing epidemic of heroin abuse filled the state Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, the first day of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2015 session.

Some, like Tina Rowland, carried poster-sized pictures of the family members they’d lost to heroin addiction and overdose. Rowland’s daughter Tabatha was 25 when she died from the drug.

“We’re not stopping,” Rowland said. “The group’s going to get bigger. And the reason why the group is going to get bigger is that more people are going to die. So, come on. When’s enough enough? When one of their kids, one of their children, their relatives passes away?

“Trust me. This isn’t just northern Kentucky. I mean, it’s bigger.”

State Sen. President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, said he shares the urgency of people like Rowland. He said it’s likely an anti-heroin bill could come up for a vote on the Senate floor as early as this week.

“We hope to move things as quickly as possible,” Stivers said. “We’re prepared and we’re going to announce our committees, and committee chairmans today, and we hope to have bills in committee this week and hopefully that will be one of them. I don’t ever want to predict anything; I’m only one of 38 people. But I’ve had discussions with the governor. We have ideas of bills that we want to move, and move quickly.”

Later on Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway—who is also a gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky’s 2015 race—announced a pilot program which he says will put anti-overdose medication Narcan in the hands of patients and families, as patients are being released from hospital treatment.

“With about $105,000 that we had in the SATAC accounts we are going to be purchasing over 2,000 Narcan rescue kits, or Naloxone rescue kits for the University of Louisville Hospital, the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, and the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital System in northern Kentucky,” Conway said.

Conway was joined by Gov. Steve Beshear, who spoke to the demonstrators earlier, and by first lady Jane Beshear, who co-chairs the Recovery Kentucky Task Force with Conway.