Lawmakers react to state of emergency

Rep. Tina Davis and more issued statements in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement declaring a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction

By Tom Waring

The Times

Gov. Tom Wolf

State Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, and Matt Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee, issued the following statement last week in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement declaring a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction:

“The opioid crisis has become a leading health concern in Pennsylvania and across the entire country. Both of our committees have dedicated significant time and resources to find workable legislative solutions that will help curb this growing crisis. We are encouraged the governor agrees with us about the seriousness of this issue and that he is committed to taking further action and dedicating further state resources to address opioid addiction.

“The governor has outlined some positive steps the administration can take to help address the opioid problem, but there is still more to do and we, in the legislature, have many ideas of our own that we are excited to share and move through our committees this year. We look forward to working with the governor and the Senate to help those in the commonwealth struggling with addiction.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Tina Davis, who is rumored to be seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, released the following statement in support of Wolf’s announcement:

“Today’s declaration appropriately labels Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic what it is: a disaster. I strongly support the governor’s decision to put people first by declaring this epidemic a statewide disaster emergency. This declaration will speed up and expand access to treatment, and improve tools for families, first responders and others in order to prevent the more than 3,500 deaths statewide from drug overdose each year.

“As representatives, we see first hand the impact this epidemic is having on our communities and know that we need to use every resource available to address this emergency. That is why I advocated for Senate Bill 446, improving the quality of recovery houses, and other legislation to address this crisis. Today’s declaration will reinforce this legislation and the important ongoing work being done throughout the commonwealth by first responders, local governments, health care providers, recovery organizations and others.”

Davis said the declaration frees up resources and allows Pennsylvania officials to temporarily override any rules or regulations they perceive as hampering the state’s ability to address the epidemic. The declaration makes Pennsylvania the eighth state to take such a step amid a public health scourge that she said has devastated communities and led to a spike in overdose deaths.