Thursday, December 27, 2018

OLDER AND WIDER



 I’m 67 years old and am trying to recall being 27. Back then, I was idealistic, motivated and smart enough to get by. To be sure, 67 isn’t 27. I now know, and have experienced, more, and that seasoning hasn’t dimmed my ardor to topple injustice but has served to only better inform it. The decades have certainly given me more to think about. After marinating in the stew of the state’s legislative processes for lo these many years, there remains one question unresolved in my ruminations. Is the state government relevant to the average person in New Jersey? Or, is it just a collection of rascals acting on their petty ambitions off to the side of anything that really matters? Both assertions are on full display daily. However, I would argue that the government is capable of doing both a significant amount of good as well as bad.

NCADD-NJ’S Public Affairs Unit and Advocacy program are the vehicles for warriors (young and old) to battle for a better human condition. Our staff and volunteers have had a measurable impact on the crafting of public policy in the Garden State. In particular, we’ve seen enacted, expungement reform, drug court expansion, and enhanced substance misuse therapy for the incarcerated, to name merely three. In general, NCADD-NJ has been in the vanguard of the 180-degree change of perception of substance misuse as an illness that requires treatment and recovery services from an earlier view that saw it as a symptom of poor judgment that could be corrected by punishment.

Listed below are just a few of the measures moving in the state Legislature in the final quarter of 2018. They have two things in common. First, they all would improve the quality of life for those battling with addiction. Second, none would have made it as far as they have without the principled and experienced  efforts of the people living with that struggle and their families.

* A.2031/S.1339 – Ensures that insurance coverage for behavioral health care be on a par with that for medical and surgical services, and enhances oversight and enforcement of mental health and addiction parity laws

* A.4866 – Requires institutions of higher education to maintain a supply of opioid antidotes and permits the emergency administration of same by campus medical professionals or trained employees

* A.4513 – Establishes a gross income tax credit of up to $5,000 per year for physicians, physician assistants and advanced practice nurses who volunteer to provide opioid use disorder therapy in a drug treatment program   

* S.2330 – Allows persons convicted of certain drug offenses to qualify for a casino employee license

* A.4131 – Establish vehicle staffing and performance standards, as well as, review and reporting requirements for non-emergency Medicaid transportation

* AJR 70/SJR 94 – Establish a temporary task force to examine how best to treat individuals who experience multiple opioid overdoses and reversals; and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature

* A.4546/S.491 – Requires public and private high schools to annually conduct written or verbal substance screenings on all students using a particular program (SBIRT – Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment)

* A.1467 – Facilitate the establishment of four new peer-to-peer recovery community centers

* A.216 – Mandate police training for interactions with people who may have behavioral health issues

* S.2100/A.3456 – Remove prohibition on voting by persons on probation, parole or incarcerated

* S.2244/A.3292 – Mandate that all prescription opioid medication include a warning sticker advising patients of the risk of addiction and overdose

* A.3288/S.948 - Designate sober living homes as beneficial uses in the context of the Municipal Land Use Act

* S.2321/A.3898 – Authorize public libraries to maintain a supply of opioid antidotes and permits emergency administration by trained library personnel

* S.1324/A.1189 – Mandate that a portion of forfeited assets in certain drug cases be directed to fund drug treatment


Ed Martone
Policy Analyst

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