Gov. Steve Beshear signs Kentucky heroin bill into law - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Steve Beshear signs Kentucky heroin bill into law

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FRANKFORT, KY. (WDRB) -- It took a marathon last day of the session, but a bill designed to fight Kentucky's heroin problem is now law.

It was among a flurry of bills lawmakers passed in the final, early morning hours of the session.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed the heroin bill Wednesday morning, just 12 hours after lawmakers passed it, as bleary-eyed lawmakers took a victory lap to celebrate what they accomplished.

"The most important partner in this is the people of Kentucky, because they demanded that we create an aggressive set of tools to battle this problem," said Beshear.

The House passed the bill 100-nothing late Tuesday night to a standing ovation, with the Senate later following suit 34-4.

It was a compromise that contained ingredients the House wanted, such as a program allowing addicts to exchange dirty needles for clean ones.

"And thank you for your willingness, anyone who had doubts about certain provisions, to put those doubts aside, to listen to the research, and open your minds up to every possible idea to help stem this tide," said Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville), one of the bill's co-sponsors.

The bill also includes what the Senate wanted, including tougher penalties for high-level traffickers and for those who transport heroin into the state.

"I think it is a good combination of both penalties and sanctions, along with the recognition for the need for intervention, education, and rehabilitation," said Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester.)

The heroin bill was not the only one pushed through in the session's final hours. Lawmakers also froze the gas tax at 26 cents a gallon. The tax is tied to the wholesale price of gasoline and was scheduled to drop to 22 cents on April 1, costing the state road fund millions of dollars.

"This is not a tax increase, this is stopping a loss of revenue that would seriously undermine Kentucky's ability to provide safe transportation to over 4-million Kentuckians," argued Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones (D-Pikeville) during Tuesday night's debate.

Lawmakers also passed a bill requiring more children to ride in booster seats; one allowing those in abusive dating relationships to seek emergency protection from courts; a bill increasing funding for a State Police unit that goes after Internet child predators and human traffickers; and a DUI ignition interlock bill.

"I want to congratulate both the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, who showed that, working in a very bipartisan way, we can make good things happen," said House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook.)

Despite the marathon last day, several bills still did not make the cut, including the Local Option Sales Tax.

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