Legislation to share opioid settlement $$$ gains support

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Courtesy MGN Online

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A coalition of legislators, the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), and the Kentucky League of Cities have thrown their support behind House Bill 427 filed by state Rep. Danny Bentley to distribute the proceeds of any potential settlement against certain manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

The proposal is a collaborative agreement among counties, cities, and the Commonwealth. More than 100 Kentucky counties and some Kentucky cities have brought litigation against these defendants, as has the Commonwealth.

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This effort and agreement could result in more guaranteed money to fight the opioid epidemic in Kentucky if a settlement is reached with the opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“There is not a family in Kentucky who hasn’t in some way felt the effects of the opioid epidemic, and for years many have waited for the manufacturers and distributors of this deadly drug to be held accountable,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron.  “This bill brings us one step closer to ensuring that any funds from a settlement are disbursed throughout the Commonwealth to those who desperately need them to keep fighting this crisis.  There was an incredible amount of collaboration that went into putting together this legislation, and each group put their own interests aside to ensure Kentuckians will receive the maximum if a settlement is reached.”

The language provides that local governments will receive 50 percent of all proceeds from the settlement, with the Commonwealth receiving the other 50 percent.

The Commonwealth’s portion will be managed by the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission comprised of nine volunteer members representing, among others, victims of the opioid crisis, representatives from the treatment and prevention community, and law enforcement.

The commission will undertake an application and reporting process to ensure funds are awarded only for opioid abatement.

“Kentucky’s opioid epidemic is far from over, and it is critical we take advantage of every opportunity to rid our state of this scourge,” said Bentley.  “HB 427 will provide the appropriate oversight for investing any monies we receive from these lawsuits.  Our ultimate goal is to ensure that every dollar benefits our state’s efforts to combat substance abuse, and HB 427 does exactly that.”

“The Kentucky Association of Counties supports House Bill 427 sponsored by Representative Danny Bentley as amended by the House committee substitute,” said Reagan Taylor, KACo President and Madison County Judge/Executive.  “We applaud Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his office for their continued efforts in working with us on this important piece of legislation. With the allocation of these vital funds, counties will be able to provide resources and ensure recovery efforts in local communities that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic.”

“The opioid epidemic has impacted the quality of life in Kentucky cities more catastrophically than any other challenge our communities have faced,” said J.D. Chaney, Executive Director/CEO of the Kentucky League of Cities.  “While many of the wrongs can never be made right, the legislation that passed the committee today is a positive step for our local governments to have new resources for abating the impact of abuse in our hometowns.  We are thankful to Representative Bentley and Attorney General Cameron for working with local governments to maximize the funds that will be dedicated to communities so local efforts can be focused to achieve the greatest impact for our citizens.”

Deputy Attorney General Barry Dunn and Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore testified on the bill Tuesday before the House Standing Committee on Appropriations and Revenue, and the committee voted 23-0 to pass HB 427 as amended by the committee substitute.