Governor Walker signs series of bills aimed at curbing opiate abuse

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker has signed a package of bills aimed at curbing opiate abuse.

The governor signed the bills during visits Thursday, March 17th to hospitals and medical centers around the state.

The package includes measures that would increase funding for treatment programs; criminalize the use of masking agents in drug tests; require health care providers to consult a database of prescription drug users before dispensing a monitored drug; allow regulatory boards to develop guidelines for prescribing drugs; and require state certification for pain clinics.

The eight pieces of legislation signed into law are as follows:

Assembly Bill 364 requires physicians to report prescriptions within 24 hours to Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which will help prevent improper access to potentially deadly drugs.

Assembly Bill 365 strengthens the collaboration between doctors and law enforcement by allowing law enforcement to notify prescribing doctors through the PDMP that opioids prescribed by those doctors were stolen or resulted in an overdose or abuse.

Assembly Bill 366 provides additional oversight by the Department of Health Services and will ensure proper guidelines are in place and strictly followed at certain pain management clinics.

Assembly Bill 367 allows the Department of Health Services to collect data from methadone clinics and requires an annual report to ensure there is a full assessment of the clinics’ effectiveness in helping addicts stay sober.

Assembly Bill 658 criminalizes the use, possession, manufacture, distribution, and advertisement of substances and devices that interfere with a lawfully administered drug test.

Assembly Bill 659 streamlines Wisconsin’s regulations on opioid treatment programs to give more people access to treatment services.

Assembly Bill 660 gives some boards, such as the Medical Examining Board, the ability to issue prescribing guidelines for controlled substances.

Assembly Bill 766 strengthens the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) by requiring an annual review of its effectiveness.

Rep. John Nygren, a Marinette Republican, is pushing the package as part of a series of reforms to combat heroin and opiate abuse. His daughter, Cassie, has struggled with a heroin addiction for the last several years.

Attorney General Brad Schimel issued this statement on the signing of these bills:

“Those of us in law enforcement have been fighting the battle against prescription painkiller and heroin abuse on the front lines for years, but we cannot do it alone. The Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) bills Representative Nygren authored that are being signed into law today by Governor Walker will make a substantial difference and prevent additional parents from burying their kids. Bill signing locations at hospitals ranging from Marinette to Wausau to Eau Claire to Oconomowoc demonstrate this problem is not confined to urban, rural, or suburban communities. Prescription painkiller and heroin abuse has no socio-economic, racial, or gender boundaries.”

I thank Governor Walker, Representative Nygren, and the bipartisan group of State Legislators for turning these bills into law. I also extend my appreciation to those in the medical community who have been advocates for this legislation, many of whom are the same medical professionals that have partnered with my office on the Dose of Reality campaign to end prescription painkiller abuse in Wisconsin. I am proud to stand alongside Governor Walker and Representative Nygren today at the bill signing in Oconomowoc, one of hundreds of Wisconsin communities that has unfortunately felt the pain of this epidemic.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Wisconsin Department of Justice's "Dose of Reality" campaign, aimed at curbing heroin and prescription drug abuse.