Special Legislative Session To Address Opioid Crisis Appears To Be Off

Sep 14, 2016


State legislators are now backing away from requests to hold a special legislative session addressing the opioid epidemic.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP

Last June, nearly 200 members of the state House of Representatives and Gov. Tom Wolf pushed for a special legislative session to address the opioid crisis that has killed more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians in the past two years.

House Speaker Mike Turzai stood inside the Capitol rotunda just a few months ago.

"We will be asking the Governor to give this heightened attention by calling the General Assembly into special session," he said.

Now, it appears it won't happen.

Republicans and Democrats are backing away from that request.

Instead, they say, the Legislature should stay in regular session and quickly pass bills to address the opioid crisis.

Republican Representative Kerry Benninghoff of Centre County says while the special session title won't be there, the results will be.

"Frankly, I think people ought to be more encouraged that you see a good bipartisan efforts with the executive branch already occurring," says Benninghoff.

He adds: "There's been a gentlemen's agreement between the Governor's office and the House and Senate leadership and we can continue and pick up right where we left off in the spring."

Wolf's spokesman Jeff Sheridan says the governor has met with legislative leaders on the issue.

He says he wants to require doctors to check a prescription drug monitoring database, limit opioid prescriptions for emergency room patients, and add classes on proper prescribing.