Tennessee opioid task force likely to decide soon on legislation

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After nearly two months of meetings the House task force on opioid abuse and state lawmakers are at the point of deciding what kind of bills may come out of dozens of hours of testimony from stakeholders across the state.

While some bills have been filed by individual members separate from the task force, one of its members says other measures can be amended with proposals from the task force.

Task force member William Lamberth, who is a former Sumner County prosecutor, said he hopes lawmakers focus on two main areas.

One is to continue “reducing the number of opioids being” prescribed, explained Rep. Lamberth.

The second part of potential legislation would be to focus on those who need treatment.

Lamberth was not among the task force members who met Monday at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), but he told News 2 he hopes lawmakers will increase the money Governor Bill Haslam has proposed in his state budget to fight opioid abuse.

The task force member meeting at ETSU included, Speaker Beth Harwell who set up the task force after calling Tennessee “the epicenter of the opioid crisis in America.”

Among the bills already filed included identifying the top 20 percent of opioid prescribers and dramatically increasing penalties for prescribers where opioids lead to an overdose death.

Click here to read more about Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.