Tennessee House opioid task force releases recommendations

Beth Harwell (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Adding 25 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents, limiting emergency room prescriptions, and a new public awareness campaign are among dozens of recommendations Wednesday from a Tennessee legislative task force on the state opioid crisis.

It comes after months of meetings and dozens of witnesses before the task force, which was created earlier this year by House Speaker Beth Harwell.

Harwell will now review the recommendations before putting the ideas into any legislation for the upcoming sessions.

In remarks before the recommendations were discussed, Harwell said, “They are not the end of the battle. We will continue to look at ways to combat the problem.”

The task force recommendations were broken down into the categories of treatment, prevention and policy. Click here to read the full list of recommendations. 

“We would like to see additional funding in the governor’s initial budget,” said Speaker Harwell. “If not I think you will seethis General Assembly provide more treatment for our citizens.”

A former prosecutor who is now a lawmaker says more TBI agents to fight the influx of dangerous pills is a key recommendation.

“Its critical to have more agents on the ground,” said Rep. William Lamberth. “They investigate all kinds of things all the time as they try to get their hands on the flood of Fentanyl coming into our state.”

What’s missing for now are the bills detailing the opioid epidemic fight, but what form will they take and at what cost?

“It may cost some up front money, but are you willing to save in the end,” asked Rep. Cameron Sexton. “That is what you have to look at.”

Lawmakers cite a state comptroller’s report that it already costs a billion dollars yearly for various Tennessee departments and agencies to deal with the opioid crisis in areas such as incarceration and treatment.