Gov. Scott Walker made three stops across Wisconsin on Monday, July 17 to sign 11 special session bills into law. Walker issued an executive order for a Special Session on Opioid Abuse on Jan. 5 of this year. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), chair of the governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse and leader of Wisconsin’s Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) agenda, authored the 11 bills as part of the Special Session and introduced them in the legislature in February. By mid-June, the legislature passed all 11 bills with large majorities. For more on the history of H.O.P.E. legislative efforts in Wisconsin, see this timeline.
Walker’s first stop Monday was Medical College of Wisconsin – Green Bay, where he signed four bills relating to medical measures to prevent and treat opioid addiction. Act 25 (SS AB 4) requires a schedule V controlled substance containing the opioid codeine to be dispensed only with a prescription. Act 26 (SS AB 7) expands graduate medical training in an addiction specialty. Act 27 (SS AB 8) requires the Department of Health Services to create, and provides funding for, two or three additional opioid treatment programs in underserved and high-need, but not necessarily rural, areas. Act 28 (SS AB 9) requires DHS to create and administer an addiction medicine consultation program to assist participating clinicians in providing enhanced care to patients with substance addiction and to provide referral support for patients with a substance abuse disorder.
Next, Walker stopped at DC Everest Senior High School, where he signed three bills relating to detecting, treating and preventing opioid abuse in schools. Act 29 (SS AB 1) allows officials in the school setting to administer an opioid antagonist to a pupil who appears to be undergoing an opioid-related drug overdose. Act 30 (SS AB 6) authorizes the director of the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) in the University of Wisconsin System to contract with a person to operate, as a four-year pilot project, one recovery charter school for no more than 15 high school pupils in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency. Act 31 (SS AB 11) requires the Department of Public Instruction to provide trainings on the screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment program, an evidence-based strategy related to addressing mental health issues in schools, to school district personnel and independent charter school personnel.
Walker signed the final four special session bills, relating to law enforcement measures to combat opioid abuse, at the Onalaska Police Department. Act 32 (SS AB 2) increases and expands treatment and diversion programs. Act 33 (SS AB 3) grants immunity to both the aided and the aider, from having probation, parole, or extended supervision revoked for possessing a controlled substance or controlled substance analog. Act 34 (SS AB 5) allows for the involuntary commitment of a person who suffers from drug addiction to treatment. Act 35 (SS AB 10) authorizes four new criminal investigation agent positions at the Department of Justice to focus on drug interdiction and drug trafficking.
Since 2014, a total of 28 bills relating to opioid abuse have been enacted in Wisconsin. Co-chairs of the governor’s task force Rep. Nygren and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said in an op-ed Monday that the Task Force, which met last week, will continue to look for policy solutions to help those who need addiction services, focusing particularly on Medicaid approaches and prevention.