House panel OKs school-based opioid abuse prevention bill

From LRC Public Information Office

FRANKFORT—Students could soon be learning about the dangers of prescription pain killer abuse under a bill that cleared the House Education Committee today.

House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, would require that elementary, middle and high school students be educated on the dangers of prescription opioid painkiller abuse and on the connection between prescription opioids and addiction to heroin and other drugs. Recommendations for a prescription opioid abuse prevention curriculum would be developed by the state Office of Drug Control Policy and published on the state Department of Education’s website.

Prescription opioids—which include drugs like morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl—are strong and addictive painkillers used to treat moderate to severe pain. They have also been tied to dozens of overdose deaths including two that Tipton was made aware of in recent days.

While he admitted HB 145 will not completely solve the drug epidemic, Tipton described the bill as “common sense” legislation that is needed to protect children in today’s drug culture.

“They are exposed to it every day, and they need to be properly educated. Hopefully this legislation will prevent some deaths in the future,” Tipton said.

Speaking in favor of HB 145 was Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, who said drug education is important–although she would like to see parents more involved in the drug education process.

“The parents are the first line of defense,” said Marzian. “I hope at some point we could include maybe adult ed classes or amend (the legislation) and say materials could be sent to the parents… You have to have the parent involved.”

Tipton said school-based prescription opioid abuse prevention education is working in other states. In Ohio, students in elementary through high school receive age-appropriate training in the responsible use of drugs and medications, he told the committee.

HB 145 now goes to the full House for consideration.