UNION – Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, believes that the General Assembly has not done a good job when it comes to addressing the heroin problem in the state and feels that some of what has been done is largely ineffective.
Schickel, a retired law enforcement officer who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, said during an Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations meeting last month that the General Assembly has done a “horrible job” in dealing with the issue , after Kentucky Association of Realtors CEO Steve Stevens had complimented the legislators on what they had done.
Schickel is working with Kenton County prosecutor Rob Sanders on a bill for the 2017 session which would impose stricter penalties, including license suspension, for persons found to be under the influence of heroin or opioids, or have those types of drugs in their system when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
“As you know, we’ve had horrible tragedies with people coming on the expressway from Cincinnati and people were either passed out or under the influence of heroin, sometimes with children in the car, sometimes with innocent bystanders being killed,” Schickel said. “We’re hopeful that that will be one more tool in the toolbox to address that.”
In addition, he’d like to see penalties for street level offenders, which were lowered back in 2011 by the General Assembly, moved back to pre-2011 levels.
“We have to return to holding street dealers accountable and quit making excuses for them,” Schickel said. “Heroin dealers are dealing in death, they need to be held accountable.”
He’s also concerned about ineffective drug treatment plans like court ordered treatment which he says is costly and largely ineffective for many individuals because they refuse to admit that they have a problem.
Schickel also doesn’t favor needle exchange programs which have been instituted in a several parts of the state where users come in to a designated health department office and exchange a used needle for a new one.
“This is just another example of where health departments are out of step,” Schickel said. “I think we have to recognize that we’re not going to solve this problem through government.”