The statistics about the opioid crisis are staggering. Opioid-related overdoses rose by about 28 percent between 2015 and 2016, and greater than 63,000 Americans died of drug overdoses that yr. Based on a recent examine, 20% of all deaths of 25-34-12 months-olds in 2016 had been associated to opioids.
Last week, the US House of Representatives handed seven bills centered on addressing the opioid crisis. Some had been constructive; others, less so.
The Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act (H.R.5327) would require the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to establish or function complete opioid restoration centers, with priority granted to areas with excessive per capita drug overdose mortality charges. The bipartisan invoice handed 383 to 13, with the one opposing coming from a small group of proper-wing GOP Freedom Caucus members.
The Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act (H.R.5041) would allow hospice worker to handle controlled substances in the residence of a deceased hospice patient to assist with disposal of the controlled substances. Currently, hospice employees usually are not in a position to do, so if a affected person dies, the medications would be left in that person’s dwelling. The bill handed unanimously.
The Assisting States’ Implementation of Plans of Safe Care Act (H.R.5890) would offer states with higher funding for technical assistance and training around plans or secure care of infants affected by the opioid crisis, and increase reporting necessities. (Sen. Bob Casey, the lead sponsor of the Senate model of the invoice, outlined the invoice right here.) It handed 406 to 3, with only three Republicans voting NO (Justin Amash of MI-03, Andy Biggs of AZ-05, and Tom Massie of KY-04).
The Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act (H.R.5891) would establish an inter-agency task force (masking Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, and Labor) designed to develop a method on how federal companies can implement a coordinated method to the opioid epidemic, with a specific concentrate on programs that help infants, youngsters, and their families. It handed 409-8, with the dissenting votes coming from the suitable-wing of the Republican caucus.
The Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program (THRIVE) Act (H.R.5735) sounds good at first glance: housing for those in recovery is a crucial part of addressing the issue.
And yet the bill has many problems. It requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to set aside 10,000 Section eight housing vouchers (0.5% of the total) every year for nonprofits chosen by HUD that will coordinate with a remedy and job skills coaching program for individuals in restoration. However, for the reason that bill doesn’t authorize any new funding, it finally ends up robbing Peter to pay Paul. And the nonprofits being chosen to administer the vouchers won’t have actual expertise with administering housing vouchers (as a public housing company would). Beyond that, the bill also lacks meaningful oversight mechanisms.
It handed 230 to 173. 218 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted for it, and 166 Democrats and 7 Republicans voted towards it.
The 12 Democrats have been Ami Bera (CA-07), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Ron Kind (WI-03), Conor Lamb (PA-18), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) Scott Peters (CA-52), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Jacky Rosen (NV-03), Brad Schneider (IL-10), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09).
The Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act (H.R.5788) seeks to handle the problem of opioid importation and thus requires the Postal Service to acquire and transmit superior electronic info to the US Customs service on mail coming from abroad. Although the bill handed unanimously out of Committee, House Republicans unilaterally added an amendment to permit the Commissioner of Customs to impose monetary penalties on the USPS if the USPS accepts sure worldwide mail shipments with out advance digital knowledge.
Danny Davis (IL-07) expressed considerations about these changes on the ground:
I sadly can not help H.R.5788. The Republican leadership insisted on final-minute modifications to impose civil penalties on the Postal Service for any accepted shipment lacking advance digital knowledge with out permitting sufficient time to completely vet the influence of the changes with vital stakeholders. I am involved concerning the fairness of imposing civil [penalties] for individual shipments missing digital data when the Postal Service lacks direct management over whether international postal operators provide this information. I am involved that having an Executive Branch agency impose penalties on another would set up an adversarial in addressing illegal drug trafficking fairly than a collaborative relationship. I’m additionally involved that penalties are primarily based on individual shipments fairly than systematic violations.
The bill passed 353 to 52. Forty nine Democrats and 3 Republicans voted against it. The 3 Republicans had been Justin Amash (MI-03), Alex Mooney (WV-02), and Don Young (AK-AL).
Listed here are the forty nine Democrats:
Keith Ellison (MN-05) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) had been both absent for the vote.
The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act (H.R. 2851) would escalate the drug war — growing penalties for low-degree drug offenses and concentrating power within the office of our white supremacist Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, on the expense of the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Sentencing Commission.
The ACLU, NAACP, Human Rights Watch, and different civil rights and civil liberties groups wrote to Congress in robust opposition to the invoice:
If passed, HR 2851 will broadly broaden penalties for drug offenses, concentrate energy inside the Department of Justice, punish people who lack criminal intent, and overcriminalize certain behavior. The legislation attempts to address the very actual problem of synthetic opioid overdoses in the United States, but we believe that its strategies are misguided. Instead of punishing people who use medicine and low-stage dealers, legislation should focus on increasing treatment alternatives and focusing on the worldwide drug commerce.
But HR 2851 would do nothing to fix this.
The United States’ opioid epidemic is actual, and overdoses are rising 12 months after year. Synthetic opioids reminiscent of fentanyl have performed a vital position in this enhance. But HR 2851 would do nothing to fix this. This bill would disproportionately incarcerate low-stage drug offenders who did not import or package the medicine, and often are unaware of the chemical composition of the medication. Many more individuals would be incarcerated for promoting drugs to support their very own substance use disorder.
Believing that harsh penalties will deter drug use misunderstands addiction.
Harsh penalties do not deter individuals with substance use disorders from utilizing or buying medication. People use and buy drugs as a result of they have a chemical dependence and imagine that they won’t be caught. As the Department of Justice itself has repeatedly acknowledged, longer sentences do not deter drug use or drug crime.[i] Believing that harsh penalties will deter drug use misunderstands addiction. Since the 1980s, we’ve got had tough penalties for heroin use and distribution, yet heroin consumption has truly elevated. Although SITSA features a carve out for possession, it will not forestall mass incarceration of low-degree drug offenders, partly as a result of portions that constitute possession aren’t outlined.
Today, heroin use and overdoses are at an all-time excessive. Just as harsh heroin laws did not deter heroin use, harsh synthetic opioid laws will not cease synthetic opioid use. Instead of prison, therapy will better handle the underlying issues that gas the opioid epidemic.
The bill passed 239 to 142. 197 Republicans and forty two Democrats voted for it. 130 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted against it. (As you may tell, so much of oldsters have been absent).