Nassau lawmakers propose special opioid revenue fund

A group of Nassau lawmakers on Tuesday proposed legislation that would create a special income fund to support the fight against opioid addiction by funneling all the money the county is clawing back from an ongoing class action lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products.

The money would be used to fund “the financial resources needed to combat this deadly threat and to provide interventions, education, health care, support and assistance to drug addicts and their families,” the caucus proposal states. Republican of the Legislature.

Opening statements began Tuesday at Central Islip as part of the broad trial in which New York Attorney General Letitia James and Nassau and Suffolk counties accused several accused of pushing opioid pain relievers into the streets. New York communities while minimizing their dangers and the possibility of addiction.

One of the defendants, Johnson & Johnson, has agreed to a settlement before the trial begins and will pay up to $ 230 million while agreeing to stop manufacturing or selling opioids, James’ office said on Saturday. .

The opioid litigation would be the first of its kind in the country to go to a jury, Newsday previously reported.

Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville) said the proposed new county legislation aims to ensure that any money from settlements or potentially a verdict comes back into the fight against the opioid epidemic locally, especially after an outbreak of fatal overdoses during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This special revenue fund is going to be a giant leap forward in enabling these organizations, these groups, these programs, to have the funds necessary to end this epidemic,” Légis said. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury) spoke about education and treatment programs.

Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore) said the proposal will ensure the money does not go into the county general fund where it can be used for other purposes.

Family and Children’s Association president Jeffrey Reynolds, whose Nassau organization offers drug treatment, joined the three Republican lawmakers on the steps of the County Legislature building as they announced the measure proposed.

“When you make a mess, you clean it up. And that’s exactly what manufacturers and distributors of drugs are being told today in the Central Islip court. It is very, very important that every penny of that settlement, every penny of this trial … is reconnected to prevention, treatment and recovery, ”he said.

State lawmakers unanimously approved similar legislation on June 9 that would require settlement funds to be reallocated to treatment, prevention and education programs, and a spokesperson for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said Cuomo was reviewing this bill, Newsday reported.

Nassau’s legislation is expected to go to committee in two weeks before the entire legislature looks into the matter later this summer, a spokesperson for Republican lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Minority Leader in the Legislature Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said in a statement Tuesday that his party “will support any measure that will ensure the most efficient and effective use of these vital resources.” He added that the settlement dollars associated with another local drug control initiative “will place us at the threshold of an opportunity to profoundly scale up our treatment service delivery and promote long-term recovery from the disease. drug addiction “.

County Director Laura Curran said in a statement Tuesday that Nassau “is paying a painful price to repair the damage caused by the opioid epidemic and that no amount of money will replace the countless lives that have been affected. “.

She added, “We need to make sure that any settlement money is used to support mental health and addiction programs with the goal of helping residents and families who have been affected by addiction.”

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