Assembly passes Rooney bills fighting opioid epidemic

Assembly passes Rooney bills fighting opioid epidemic

Kevin J. Rooney

TRENTON, N.J. – Rampant opioid abuse has become a major health crisis in New Jersey and across the nation. The link between prescription painkillers, heroin use, and overdose deaths is conclusive.

To combat the growing epidemic, Assemblyman Kevin Rooney sponsors two bills that were passed by the Assembly this month.

“This is a life-and-death issue,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “It’s imperative for the Legislature to take an active role supporting the tireless efforts of law enforcement, first responders, and healthcare professionals in the daily fight to save lives and prevent addiction.”

The Assembly passed Rooney’s bill (A5438) requiring death certificates to include the name and class of drug that contributed to an overdose death by a 73-2 vote on June 20.

“Too many people are dying from overdose, but the cause of death doesn’t reflect it,” said Rooney. “More accurate data will give us a better idea of the severity of the drug problem we are facing. We need to understand exactly what we are dealing with.”

Data from death certificates is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in reports on overdose statistics across the nation.

The Assembly also passed Rooney’s measure (SJR35/AJR95) to designate October 6 as Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day. The bill was approved unanimously in both houses.

“We can never stop educating people about the dangers of prescription painkillers and addiction,” Rooney said. “More than 3,000 people lost their battle with drugs in 2018. This annual day will symbolize our unflinching efforts to inform the public about the risk of opioids and the life-threatening consequences of heroin abuse.”