Capital briefs

Legislators praise opioid bill

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives this week approved a bill designed to stem the rising opioid epidemic in the state.

“The opioid epidemic continues to affect urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout the state,” state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus, R-Prospect, stated in a press release. “It is my hope that this legislation will aid in addressing this very dire situation in our state.”

The legislation, HB 5053, would, among its measures, limit first-time painkiller prescriptions for adults and all prescriptions for minors, with exceptions for certain medical conditions, to a seven-day supply adult prescriptions; release health care professionals and good Samaritans from liability when they administer an opioid antagonist, such as Narcan, to treat an overdose; and require that local emergency medical services are equipped with and trained in the use of Narcan, according to a press release.

“Heroin and prescription drug overdoses are claiming more lives in Connecticut every year,” state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-Seymour) said in the release. “Expanding access to Narcan is an important step in this public health crisis. Allowing more first responders to carry Narcan will save lives.”

State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr.  (D-Woodbridge) added in the release, “The world has awoken to the public health emergency that is prescription opioid addiction and the havoc it is wreaking on our friends and families. This bill contains multiple provisions to help alleviate some of the pain and suffering caused by these addictions.”

GOP proposes state budget plan

HARTFORD — Republicans proposed a $19.7 billion budget for 2017 this week they say will close a roughly $936 million deficit and create a five-year budget framework that lays a sustainable path forward for Connecticut’s finances.

“The framework announced today offers sensible structural changes to the way our state handles its finances and is a clear path forward from the failed policies that led us into the perpetual fiscal crisis that is crippling our economy,” state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck) said in a press release. “By making responsible choices now we are able to keep expenses in check and even begin to see surpluses totaling more than $1 billion within five years.”

The Republican plan relies on a mixture of budget cuts and policy changes.

Some $556.5 million of the $935.7 million in assumed savings come from personnel reductions and a wage freeze, a 12 percent cut to selected appropriations and the elimination of municipal grants for property tax relief.

The plan would restore cuts to the social safety net and Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funding proposed in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal, the release stated.

The plan also caps state bonding and prices out savings from changes to unionized state employee health and pension benefits to offer an alternative to layoffs should unions come to the negotiation table, the release stated.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.

Bill creases fund for fighters with cancer

HARTFORD — The Senate this week approved a bill to create a firefighters’ cancer relief program.

“There are towns in my region that are completely staffed by volunteer firefighters, thereby savings communities millions of dollars in full-time salary costs,” state Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) said in a press release. “I want to thank our firefighters for their professionalism and their sacrifice to our communities, and this vote is one way to do that.”

The legislation establishes a relief fund to support firefighters diagnosed with work-related cancers. A new cancer relief subcommittee of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association would award benefits to firefighters beginning July 1, 2019, the release stated. Wages cannot be provided for more than two years, and the bill prevents a firefighter who receives benefits from the account from simultaneously receiving unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits or any other municipal, state or federal wage replacement benefits.

The account will be funded by diverting one cent per month from a state-mandated fee that finances the 911 emergency telecommunication system.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.

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