A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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Governor Wolf addresses joint session of General Assembly on opiods

Governor Tom Wolf Wednesday addressed a Joint Session of the General Assembly to outline our collective plan to lead the nation in combatting the opioid and heroin crisis facing Pennsylvania.

Click Here to read Gov. Wolf’s remarks.

“We have shown that we can work together to make Pennsylvania the great place we know it can be. It is now time to do so again and give the people of Pennsylvania a reason to believe in their leaders,” said Gov. Wolf. “It is up to us to tackle the opioid crisis and give Pennsylvania the prosperous, healthy, and safe future we know it deserves. I look forward to a productive session and real progress toward stopping the opioid epidemic. Let us, here in Pennsylvania, lead the nation in fighting this crisis.

“I want to thank the House and the Senate for their dedication to ensuring that those suffering from the disease of addiction are getting the treatment that they need. With ten Pennsylvanians a day being lost to this horrible epidemic, working together for quick action is more important than ever.”

imgresIn order to stem the tide of opioid abuse and make progress for those suffering from the disease of addiction and their loved ones, we must work quickly and efficiently to pass bills to send to Gov. Wolf’s desk.

During the governor’s address, he outlined the following priorities:

— Strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program: Physicians should check the commonwealth’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program each time they prescribe opioids. Our current law only requires doctors to check the system the first time they prescribe to a patient, or if they believe a patient is suffering from the disease of addiction.

In addition, dispensers should be required to enter data into the database within 24 hours of issuing a prescription, rather than the current standard of 72 hours. Strengthening program requirements is imperative in helping doctors and pharmacists identify whether patients are doctor shopping or other doctors are overprescribing patients. State officials also need the tools to identify inappropriate prescribing and dispensing practices among health care providers to better crack down on abuse.

— Improve and Increase Education: We must prepare doctors and physicians for prescribing opioids and pain management by improving medical school and continuing education curricula on opioids. This will give doctors the knowledge and best practices needed to tailor their clinical skills to identify signs of addiction and provide patients with information to avoid abuse or engage in meaningful treatment if they become addicted. We should also require schools to teach students about opioid misuse in existing drug and alcohol abuse curricula.

— Limit Opioid Prescriptions to Emergency Room Patients and Minors: We should limit the number of opioids a patient can receive at emergency rooms to a seven day supply with no refills. We should put the same restriction in place for minors no matter where they get a prescription. This would not make it harder for physicians to prescribe opioids for legitimate pain. Those suffering from crippling pain need relief, and we must be careful to protect the ability of sufferers of long-term pain or victims of trauma to receive appropriate medication.

— Insurance Coverage for Abuse Deterrent Opioids: Insurance companies should be required to cover abuse deterrent opioids – like they already have in Massachusetts. This will make it more difficult to abuse prescription drugs. While many people become addicted by simply swallowing pills, others crush pills to snort or smoke. Drug manufacturers are rapidly developing new technologies to prevent this kind of abuse. Deterrent measures can be important tools against intentional or unintentional abuse or overdoses.

— Establish a Voluntary Directive: We should allow patients to establish a voluntary directive if they do not want to be prescribed opioids. This directive could be used by a patient to deny or refuse the administration or prescribing of an opioid drug by a practitioner.

— Drug Take-Back Programs: There are nearly 520 take-back boxes located at police stations across Pennsylvania, and we have collected and destroyed over 145 thousand pounds of prescription drugs including opioids. (From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

State Representative Jason Dawkins to address special open meeting of Executive Committee on October 5.

jdawkins

State Representative Jason Dawkins will speak on October 5, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. in the Board Room, 10th Floor, 1101 Market Street.  He wants to hear our views on the criminal justice system in Philadelphia.  All members are invited to attend.

Session Schedule

Senate

October 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

November 16

House

October 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

November 14, 15

(From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

Bills Moving

Local Firearms Ordinances: House Bill 2258 (M.Keller-R-Perry) preemption of local firearms ordinances was removed from the Table and is now on the House Calendar for action.

Sanctuary Cities: House Bill 1885 (White-R-Philadelphia) further providing for exemptions from municipal immunity related to sanctuary cities (sponsor summary) was removed from the Table and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Child Abuse: Senate Bill 1311 (Vance-R-Cumberland) relating to adoption and child abuse was removed from the Table and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Personal Information Breach: Senate Bill 1048 (Vulakovich-R- Allegheny) amends the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed by the Senate.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

Forfeiture Reform: Senate Bill 869 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) providing for civil asset forfeiture reform was amended and reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee, was referred into and out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and was passed by the Senate.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

Human Trafficking: Senate Bill 851 (Greenleaf-R- Montgomery) further providing for definitions, safe harbor provisions, establishing a fund related to human trafficking  was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available

Local Firearms Ordinances: Senate Bill 1330 (Alloway-R-Adams) preemption statute regarding local firearms and ammunition ordinances was removed from the Table and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Firearms Penalties: House Bill 1496 (Stephens-R-Montgomery) increasing penalties for felons possessing firearms was amended and reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Restitution: House Bill 1070 (D.Costa-D-Allegheny) relating to restitution at the county level (House Fiscal Note and summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

DUI Blood Draws: House Bill 2058 (Farry-R-Bucks) authorizing blood draws by EMTs in DUI cases (House Fiscal Noteand summary) was reported from the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

(From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

New Judicial Assignments

Click for Order of the Supreme Court

Judges Ransom, Solano and Moulton sworn in to Superior Court

Click for news release

 

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