Politics

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill on the third day of the legislative session last month, but the House has yet to produce a bill this session addressing the state’s heroin problem.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, on Tuesday said he has issues with the upper chamber’s version—specifically, the bill’s provision to fund treatment programs.

“The Senate [version of the bill] spent money—and nobody is against rehabilitation—but the Senate spent money that wasn’t really there, and it’s kind of a bit of a false promise, I’m afraid,” Stumbo said

The Senate bill, proposed by Taylor Mill Republican Chris McDaniel, takes savings from 2011 criminal justice reforms and directs the funds to addiction treatment programs.

McDaniel estimated more than $13 million a year would be available through this funding mechanism, the Herald-Leader reported.

On Tuesday, Stumbo also said the House needs to take a closer look at how addicts and dealers would be punished in the bill.

“People who are just addicts perhaps don’t need to be in the same category as those we consider to be pushers or dealers,” Stumbo said. “If it were up to me, I would have the death penalty for all of those who were distributors or dealers. Or I’d shoot them myself.”

Hopkinsville Democrat John Tilley, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is sponsoring the House’s version of the bill. Stumbo said he expects a draft of the legislation will be ready by next week.

In response to Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers appeared hopeful of finding funding for treatment, even if it meant looking beyond the savings from criminal justice reforms.

“I think it is premature to say there is no moneys out there,” said Stivers, a Republican from Manchester.

Stivers also suggested that if the two chambers can’t agree on a form of funding for drug treatment, he would look towards funding during next year’s budgetary session.

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