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Senate leadership proposes bills to combat heroin epidemic

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A Republican-led Senate task force has released a package of bills aimed at combating the growing heroin addiction in New York.

The bills would require schools to carry supplies of Naloxone, the drug used to treat heroin overdoses and in many cases, prevent death. They would also require better management of patients treated for drug addiction, and  convert some recently closed state prisons to treatment centers.

Phil Boyle, task force leader and chairman of the Senate Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee, says he hopes Democrats in the Assembly agree to the package in the remaining weeks of the session. Otherwise, he says further action should be taken to achieve new laws.

“I would actually call on the governor to call a special session of the state legislature to deal with the heroin and opioid situation,” Boyle said. “But hopefully we would not need that.”

In a statement, the leader of the Senate Democrats Andrea Stewart-Cousins says, “heroin and opioid abuse is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” and that she hopes to come to an agreement on joint legislation soon.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.