Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter was joined by two state lawmakers Wednesday to announce legislation to form the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.
The commission will be created by Senate Concurrent Resolution 12, authored by Senator AJ Griffin and Representative Tim Downing.
According to the resolution, the nine-member committee is chaired by Attorney General Hunter and members will study, evaluate and make recommendations for changes to state policy, rules or statutes to better combat opioid abuse in Oklahoma.
Members will present proposed recommendations for legislation to Governor Mary Fallin, Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz and Speaker of the House of Representatives Charles McCall by December 1.
Attorney General Hunter said Oklahomans are dying and the state must present a unified front and bring multiple stakeholders in to find ways to reverse the nightmarish trend.
“Oklahoma is currently in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic that is reaching a crisis level,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Over the last three years there have been 2,684 reported opioid related deaths in the state. This commission will chart a path forward by looking at every avenue to save lives.”
The nine-member commission will represent the health community, local law enforcement, the Oklahoma Legislature, the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the chair of the District Attorney’s Council and the director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control.
Oklahoma State Senator AJ Griffin said the members will go beyond legislation and look at all areas in order to improve.
“In addition to policy changes, the commission members and I will also be looking at prevention, interdiction and access to treatment,” said Sen. Griffin, R-Guthrie. “One death because of substance abuse is too many. I appreciate Attorney General Hunter’s commitment to changing the lives of many Oklahomans.”
Oklahoma State Representative Tim Downing said with the state facing a rise in the number of overdose deaths due to opioids, the commission will also look to raise awareness and educate the public.
“I am honored to be working closely with Attorney General Hunter on this initiative,” said Rep. Downing. “The commission plans to look at everything from how many prescriptions are being handed out by doctors, how many are sold on the streets, establish ways to better educate the public and come up with a viable disposal solution,”
Gov. Fallin will appoint two members.
Speaker McCall will appoint two members.
Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz will appoint two members.