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Bill would create database to boost fight against opioid, meth epidemic

June 01, 2021 3:00 PM | Anonymous

Wisconsin Health News

Lawmakers are considering establishing a centralized database for opioid and methamphetamine statistics that could help boost the fight against the state’s drug epidemic. 

The Assembly Committee on Substance Abuse and Prevention approved the bill unanimously last week, and the Senate Committee on Health signed off on the measure in February. The bill would provide $1.5 million in the second year of the 2021-23 biennium to implement the data system. 

The bill would direct the Department of Administration to work with a vendor to collect and analyze data on overdoses, drug trafficking and other measures. The state agency would also be charged with submitting reports to the Joint Finance Committee on data trends. 

Committee on Substance Abuse and Prevention Chair Rep. Jon Plumer, R-Lodi, said different state agencies already collect the information that would be put into the database, but it’s not easily accessible. 

“We need to be able to access that information more easily than we are now,” Plumer said. “This goes from a paper map to a GPS system. That’s how dramatic this change would be.” 

Plumer said the measure would help not only with treatment, but law enforcement. He said law enforcement officials are more “reactionary” now to when substances appear in their area. The database would give them a “heads up” of what’s happening in other areas of the state, allowing them to target resources. 

In testimony on the bill, Senate Committee on Health Chair Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, noted the state has recently seen an increase in overdoses and drug-related deaths. He said the bill would help assess the effectiveness of state initiatives.  

The Assembly approved the bill last session, but it didn’t make it into law after the Senate canceled its final session. 

 The Joint Finance Committee removed a provision in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget that was similar to the bill when it removed a series of policies in early May. Evers included funding for a similar program in a bill that would expand Medicaid, which Republicans declined to take up last week.

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