Legislators have advanced a bill aimed at curbing the opioid abuse crisis.
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha tells colleagues Legislative Bill 931 is personal to her, because her sister, Carrie Howard, died at the age of 33 in 2009 of an oxycontin overdose in 2009.
Howard’s mother, Gwen, held her seat at the time.
Howard asks her colleagues to imagine what they would do on their last legislative recess day.
“In March 2009 during a long session, on my mother’s recess day, my Mom and I were planning a funeral instead of my sister’s wedding and we were cleaning out her house instead of helping her build a home,” Howard says during legislative floor debate.
The bill limits opioid prescriptions for those under 18 to seven days at a time. It requires doctors to outline the risks to their patients when prescribing pain killers and it requires identification to pick them up at the pharmacy.
Howard says her sister’s doctor prescribed more than 4,500 pills during a 5-month period.
“But it is jarring to know that that was what went to one human being for the last five months of her life,” Howard says.
Howard worked with Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha and Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell on the bill.
Kuehn sponsors the amendment requiring identification to pick up opioids at the pharmacy. Kuehn tells colleagues during legislative debate they cannot overlook the role doctors play in the crisis.
“Opioid addiction, for the most part, begins with a prescription pad, a pen, and a healthcare provider,” according to Kuehn
LB 931 advances on a 47-0 vote. It needs to clear two other votes to move to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk.