Politics

This story has been updated.

A state Senate committee has passed two compromise bills aimed at tackling Kentucky’s heroin problem.

The full Senate hopes to pass the bills and send them over to the House for final passage before the legislative session wraps Tuesday night.

One bill is a “light” version of the heroin legislation that will serve as a backup in case the compromise bill fails at the last minute. That bill would increase funding for drug treatment, require increased reporting of heroin overdoses, and make the overdose-reversing drug naloxone more available.

The other bill reflects what Senate leadership says is a compromise that House leaders agreed to last week, but reneged on over the weekend.

That bill would include several House priorities like a “good Samaritan” provision that would provide legal immunity to overdose reporters, a local-option for needle exchanges, and a multi-leveled punishment system for heroin dealers.

The bill would also include a way to amplify the punishment for low-level dealers if they possess scales, weapons, and excess cash—indicating they actively deal heroin.

That provision would raise the punishment for a dealer who has less than 2 grams of heroin to a Class C felony and require 50 percent time served before probation could be granted. Individuals would be exempted if they have a “substance use disorder” as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat said there’s a drafting error in the part of the bill covering penalties and that the language should just revert to the original House version of the bill.

“There’s not much time left and it’s kinda time to fish or cut bait as they say,” Stumbo said.

Stumbo also said he’d prefer not to just pass the “watered down” version.

“If you strip those things out you don’t have much of a bill, to tell you the truth,” he added.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the bills were passed in the waning hours of the legislative session. They were passed late Monday night.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.