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State Senate Bill Would Establish Fund To Pay For Costs Stemming From Opioid Epidemic

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Oklahoma lawmakers took the first step in setting up a fund to pay for ongoing costs of abating Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic.

Senate Bill 610 would establish the Opioid Settlement and Judgement Revolving Fund. Sen. Greg McCortney (R-Ada) had his legislation passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee he chairs on Wednesday. 

Any future awards from lawsuits against companies that made, distributed or marketed the powerful, addictive painkillers would go into it.

"The fund will be invested by the state treasurer; 4% of that fund will be appropriated — or, will be eligible to be appropriated by the legislature each year in perpetuity," McCortney said.

Lawmakers could spend money from the fund on things like drug courts or treatment programs.

The opioid fund will not be structured like the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.

"We did not want to set this up in a trust like TSET is. We want it to be a lot more flexible, and we want the legislature to be able to move those funds where they’re most needed," McCortney said.

Attorney General Mike Hunter last week called on lawmakers to appropriate funding to help end the opioid crisis after it was announced Oklahoma would recieve almost $9 million out of a nationwide, $573 million settlement with consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which helped drug makers market opioids. A spokesman said Wednesday Hunter is supportive of SB610.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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