Del. Bill Establishes Guidelines For Use Of Opioid Impact Fee
The State Senate has passed legislation to establish a prescription opioid settlement fund and a settlement distribution commission that would allocate collected funds toward addressing the opioid crisis. The measure formalizes a structure for administration of Delaware’s first-in-the-nation opioid impact fee.
Senator Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach are co-sponsors of SB 166.
“Whether it’s through our first-in-nation opioid impact fee or landmark lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest drug makers, Delaware is holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for flooding our streets with their highly addictive products and misleading the public about the dangers,” Hansen said. “As we redirect the record-breaking profits reaped by these corporations back into our communities to help individuals and families so terribly impacted by addiction, our goal is help fill the holes in Delaware’s existing recovery network and react quickly to future treatment needs. That is the intent of this legislation and I want to thank Attorney General Kathy Jennings for her dedication to winning the fight against substance abuse in the First State.”
“There sometimes is a temptation when the state receives funds to repurpose them for other uses. But the opioid epidemic has ravaged nearly every corner of our state, so the funds we receive should be allocated specifically to address the problems it has created,” Schwartzkopf added. “By establishing an independent commission to disburse the funds, we will be ensuring that the money Delaware pulls in through the opioid impact fee or settlements are directly funneled to programs that will help residents in recovery and treatment.”
The legislation goes to the House for consideration.
“Delawareans across the state have paid the price for corporate profit-chasing and deception,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings said. “After years of struggle in our communities, anguish in our families, and fights in the courts, we are finally seeing the first signs of accountability for the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the crisis. The question before us is not whether Big Pharma will pay its debts to our communities, but how we will administer the significant settlements that Delaware has received and will continue to receive. This legislation answers that question by setting up the guardrails Delawareans need and deserve and ensuring that these funds go exactly where they are intended to go: into the fight against addiction.”
According to the bill’s sponsors, the commission would be made up as follows:
SB 166 also establishes the Prescription Opioid Settlement Distribution Commission within the Behavioral Health Consortium to manage the administration of the Settlement Fund, as well as money in the Opioid Impact Fund established by the 150th General Assembly. The Commission would be co-chaired by the Attorney General and the Governor, or their designees, and comprised of 13 additional members or their designees:
· The Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services
· Two Senators, one from each caucus, appointed by the President Pro Tempore
· Two Representatives, one from each caucus, appointed by the Speaker of the House
· One member of the public appointed by Governor
· One member of the public appointed by the Attorney General
· Three members representing each county government in Delaware
· One representative of municipal government, appointed by the Governor and selected from a list of 3 names provided by the Delaware League of Local Governments
· One representative of a substance use disorder advocacy group, appointed by the Attorney General
· One representative of the addiction recovery system, appointed by the Governor