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Wausau – Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 658 and Assembly Bill 366 into law today at Aspirus Wausau Hospital as a part of his Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) tour.  During the H.O.P.E. tour, Governor Walker discussed the impact this legislation will have on Wisconsinites who struggle with opioid abuse and addiction.

“Wisconsin, like many other states across the country, is noticing a dangerous trend – an escalating number of cases involving heroin and opioid use, addiction, and overdose,” Governor Walker said.  “The legislation we’re signing into law today as a part of our H.O.P.E. tour works to combat this trend by putting in place consistent guidelines and closely monitoring pain management clinics in Wisconsin.”

Assembly Bill 658 – criminalizes the use, possession, manufacture, distribution, and advertisement of any substance or device intended to defraud, circumvent, interfere with, or provide a substitute for a bodily fluid in conjunction with a lawfully administered drug test.  Authored by Representative John Nygren (R – Marinette) and Senator Robert Cowles (R – Green Bay), the bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 98-0 and was concurred by the Senate on a voice vote.  It is Act 264.

Assembly Bill 366 – with the new discovery of so-called “pill mills” that prescribe highly addictive pain killers without demonstrable patient need, this legislation aims to prevent their spread into Wisconsin.  The bill also creates a state pain clinic registry by requiring legitimate pain clinics to be certified by the Department of Health Services (DHS) in order to operate.  This will put additional safeguards in place that protect against prescription drug abuse while ensuring legitimate clinics are able to continue to serve patients in need.  Authored by Representative John Nygren (R – Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R – River Hills), the bill passed the Assembly on a voice vote and was concurred by the Senate on a voice vote.  It is Act 265.

In 2013, more Wisconsinites died as a result of drug overdose than from motor vehicle crashes, suicide, breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, influenza, or HIV, according to a report released in September of 2015 by the Department of Health Services (DHS).  Drug overdose deaths in Wisconsin doubled from 2004 to 2013 and opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, contributed to 45 percent of the 843 drug overdose deaths in 2013, while heroin contributed to about 27 percent.  Governor Walker continues to work with DHS and the legislature to bolster Wisconsin’s drug abuse prevention and treatment efforts, and the bills signed into law today as a part of Governor Walker’s H.O.P.E. tour are an important step to ensure Wisconsinites who face drug addiction receive the help and support they need.

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