Miloscia bills focus on Washington’s opioid crisis

Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, has introduced two bills this session to address Washington’s opioid crisis in ways that put priority on treatment and continue his opposition of government-sanctioned drug-injection sites.

“It’s a sad and tragic fact that more people throughout our state are becoming addicted to heroin and other opioids,” Miloscia said. “This growing problem exists in Seattle and also our small towns. We need to do more to address this crisis, and these two bills would help do that.”

Senate Bill 6391 would create a comprehensive opioid-treatment oversight system that includes the establishment of a “drug czar” to coordinate state and local opioid misuse- and overdose-prevention efforts, establish an opioid-treatment information system, and develop recommendations for increasing treatment-on-demand services.

Under the proposal, the drug czar would be appointed by the governor and serve a five-year term. The position would be within the state Department of Health.

Miloscia said establishing a comprehensive system would help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of treatment.

“There is an opioid crisis in this state, and we need to break down funding and treatment silos to ensure the best possible outcomes for individuals, families and communities,” Miloscia said.

Senate Bill 6254 would ban “safe injections sites” in Washington. To be eligible for state funding, each local health board must certify annually that no safe injection site, whether privately or publicly funded, is operating within its jurisdiction.

“This bill is a way to stop Seattle and King County from moving toward the so-called ‘safe’ injection sites, which effectively legalize and decriminalize heroin use, abuse and sales on our streets and neighborhoods,” Miloscia said. “Last summer, I visited Vancouver, B.C. What I saw were addicts taking drugs and dealing drugs out in the open and police just ignoring it. I saw people literally dying in front of my eyes. That’s not proper drug treatment. We need to move toward treatment on demand and get people into treatment rather than letting them have heroin on demand and signaling to the community that heroin use is OK and sanctioned by our governments.

“The bottom line is, we need to ban the government-sanctioned injection sites and put our money into treatment,” Miloscia added.

Both bills have been referred to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for consideration.