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Ky Gov and lawmakers to tackle heroin in 2014

Tackling the skyrocketing problem of heroin is still on the front burner for Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and area lawmakers.

A study released in November said drug overdose deaths have quadrupled in Kentucky since 1999 and now the number is higher than all other states except for West Virginia and New Mexico. Northern Kentucky is seeing more emergency room visits from overdoses and more people dying from overdoses.

At last week's Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon Beshear was asked about treatment funding. He said under the Affordable Care Act all insurance policies have to pay for substance abuse treatment. "That's never been in place before and that's going to be huge for providers and people who need the treatment. Because hopefully that will at least help start providing them payment that our providers need in order to provide that treatment."

Beshear also says the state is looking to expand facilities and outpatient treatment for heroin addicts.

Next year Senator John Schickel says he will introduce legislation to tighten penalties for heroin traffickers. It's now considered a Class D felony. Schickel wants to raise it to a Class C felony for the first offense and a Class B after that.

Not all lawmakers think legislation is the answer. Senator Robin Webb told the TV show Pure Politics lawmakers must balance appropriate penalties with fiscal responsibility so as not to overload Kentucky's corrections system with low-level drug offenders.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology