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Senate GOP pushes for heroin, opioid enforcement bills

Sen. John Flanagan, seen on Thursday, March 30,

Sen. John Flanagan, seen on Thursday, March 30, 2017, on Tuesday backed a package of anti-opioid bills. Photo Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

ALBANY — Republican state senators are making a push for a raft of anti-opioid addiction and anti-heroin bills in the closing week of the regular legislative session, primarily focusing on enforcement measures.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) headlined a GOP news conference Tuesday at which colleagues advocated for bills to toughen penalties against opiate dealers and sales within 1,000 feet of drug-treatment centers, make it easier for police to charge individuals with felony possession of heroin and regulate more derivatives of fentanyl.

The legislative package also includes measures to allow for-profit treatment entities to receive state subsidies and crack down on what Republicans called “patient brokers” who receive fees for referrals to treatment centers.

The emphasis on tougher penalties and prison terms puts the Republican-led Senate at odds with the Democratic-controlled Assembly, which focuses more on treatment programs.

At the same time, the Senate proposal frames the negotiating parameters on the issue during the final days of the session. Lawmakers are set to adjourn June 21.

“We have to go after the bad guys,” Flanagan said. “We can do everything in the world about insurance, treatment, recovery — all of which is important. But if we don’t go after the perpetrators and punish them swiftly and severely, it doesn’t matter.”

A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said Democrats would study Flanagan’s proposal.

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