The PA House Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks), has advanced three pieces of legislation aimed at helping people and families in the recovery process. House Bills 220, 741, and 944 all received unanimous approval.
“HB 741 and HB 944 highlight the impact of family members, and the importance of letting the family know when a loved one has left the safety of their treatment program,” said Chairman Farry. HB 741 — known as Justin’s Law — was introduced by Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon). It is named for a constituent who was evicted from a recovery house after a relapse and subsequently died of an overdose. Justin’s Law would require recovery houses to inform an emergency contact in such a situation in the future. HB 944 by Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland) requires the same for inpatient treatment. Currently, there is no legal requirement for such notifications.
Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester and Delaware) who lost his youngest brother to a drug overdose has spoken out on behalf of the legislation. “I have witnessed the grip addiction has on a person; the cycle of addiction is relentless,” Williams said. “Those suffering from addiction need every bit of support we can provide, including notifying their families when the addict leaves treatment or recovery houses. Too often, the next stop after leaving those facilities is a fatal overdose. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor this important legislation.”
The other bill in the package, HB 220 by Rep. Jack Rader (R-Monroe), would not require a positive drug test for admittance into a substance abuse program. His bill was in response to a constituent who had been keeping himself clean but was seeking help to continue his recovery. The constituent unfortunately overdosed in attempt to show a positive drug test.
“Treatment is a lifeline for those suffering from addictions,” said Rep. KC Tomlinson (R-Bucks), who is chair of the Human Services Subcommittee on Drug and Alcohol. “It’s why we must make the process easier and safer for addicts and their families. The package of bills will accomplish this.” Fellow Human Services Committee member Shelby Labs (R-Bucks) added, “I am proud to support legislation that would ultimately increase treatment success rates and give victims of addiction the hope they have been searching for.”
The bills will now head to the House floor for full consideration, then to the Senate, before reaching the Governor’s Desk. “I commend the makers of the bill,” said Chairman Farry. “My hearts go out to the families who have suffered. My hope is these bills will help others in their recovery journey.”