<p>CONTACT: Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827</p>
SACRAMENTO—In a showing of bipartisan support yesterday, the Assembly Health Committee voted in favor of Asm. Richard Bloom’s (D-Santa Monica) AB 831, a bill that would require a temporary state task force of experts to develop a comprehensive plan to address the state’s overdose crisis, as well as establish a modest funding source for groups working to reduce overdose deaths. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before a floor vote of the full Assembly later this session.
Advocates are delighted at the showing of bipartisan support and encourage the legislature to continue supporting the bill, all the way to the governor’s desk.
“Establishing a modest grants program and convening a state task force to finally come up with a plan to tackle our growing drug overdose problem is a common-sense proposal and one that is very urgently needed,” said Meghan Ralston, Harm Reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, sponsor of the bill. “It’s really exciting to see this bipartisan support for the bill as we head into the Assembly Appropriations Committee and toward the floor vote. It clearly demonstrates that representatives on both sides of the aisle are aware of the huge problem we face and the tremendous need to start doing something about it.”
AB 831 creates a temporary task force to study the complexity of the overdose crisis and make recommendations to the chairs of both Senate and Assembly Health. It also appropriates $500,000 to fund a statewide grants program to help fund and expand the efforts of current overdose prevention programs, as well as encourage local governments and community groups to create new programs in areas hardest hit by overdose deaths.
“Accidental drug overdose is the number one cause of accidental injury-related death in California, and the numbers keep climbing,” said Bloom, the bill’s author. “A $500,000 investment, along with a comprehensive plan to bring the number of deaths down, is a modest response to tackle a problem this size.”
Denise Cullen, co-founder of Broken No More/GRASP, testified in support of the bill and urges other families to support it, as well.
“Losing my son to an accidental drug overdose was the worst day of my life. But to know that over 3,500 California families keep having to go through this exact nightmare every year, because we don’t have a state plan to do anything about it, is a travesty,” Cullen said. “It is powerful and very moving to know that this important bill has so much support from so many people.”
AB 831 has no opposition and is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, parents groups, public health organizations, treatment providers and advocacy groups, including: All of Us or None Los Angeles/Long Beach , Amity Foundation, A New PATH, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Broken No More, California Hepatitis Alliance, California Opioid Maintenance Providers, Center for Living and Learning, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Children's Hospital Los Angeles Clean Needles Now, Glide Health Services, Harm Reduction Coalition,HealthRIGHT360, Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, La Ventana Treatment Programs, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Los Angeles Community Health Outreach Project, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse, Mothers With a Purpose, National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, Safer Alternatives Thru Networking and Education, San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force, and several physicians and other individuals.