Bipartisanship in fight against opioid crisis step in right direction

Lawmakers in Washington are bragging of more successful bipartisanship that resulted in common sense legislation called the “Opioid Crisis Response Act” last week. It passed in the Senate 99-1.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are both taking credit for helping sponsor opioid related bills. Klobuchar said her bills will specifically address the dangers of synthetic opioids and help law enforcement agencies to combat new synthetic opioids.

Smith said the legislation will give Minnesota and the nation the tools to combat the opioid crisis that involved 72,000 overdoses last year.

“This bill will make Nalaxone more available so first responders and others can treat people who overdose,” Smith said in her statement.

On Tuesday, the Senate showed more bipartisanship by approving a spending bill on a 93-7 vote. That bill earmarked $206 million increase for treatment of opioid addiction, bringing spending to $3.8 billion to confront what lawmakers called an epidemic of abuse.

While those are big numbers, it’s most likely not enough to provide adequate funding for the entire nation. Some of the funding would trickle down to southwest Minnesota, but it’s doubtful it will be enough to eradicate the crisis entirely.

Communities and families will still need to find creative ways to fight the opioid crisis.

According to the International City/County Management Association, there are a number of ways communities can combat the opioid crisis. Some of those suggestions include creating community coalitions, developing ordinances and places for safe drug disposal, establishing drug diversion task forces and hosting community mobilization events to put tools into hands of every community sector.

Some of these suggestions are already practiced in some parts of southwest Minnesota.

While it will help, more money alone is not the only solution. It will take families, friends and community members to work together to make a difference in ending the opioid crisis.