Just last week, a doubtful John Coppola, executive director of the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP), told Capital Tonight that if legislation to create a lockbox for opioid settlement funds wasn’t passed by the end of the legislative session, "it would be a disaster." He did not sound optimistic.
But things move fast in Albany during the last week of the legislative session. That "disaster" may morph into a huge victory for those fighting against drug and alcohol abuse.
On Tuesday, the state Senate voted to pass S7194, Sen. Gustavo Rivera’s bill to create a lockbox for all opioid settlement money that comes into New York state.
Coppola released a statement after the bill’s passage, saying, "We applaud the Senate for taking this critical step in the right direction. We are hopeful that the Assembly will pass identical legislation."
So is bill sponsor Assemblymember Carrie Woerner.
Woerner’s bill, A6395B, is the same as Rivera’s. It would ensure that settlement funds go toward services to deal with prevention, harm reduction and support for recovery, rather than the state’s general fund. The bill currently sits in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.
When asked if she would place a bet on its passage, Woerner, who represents Saratoga, home to world class horse-racing, said yes.
"I would have to say I think this is a sure thing," Woerner told Capital Tonight.
Whether Gov. Cuomo signs the bill is not, but Woerner is undaunted.
“I’m going to go with optimism that, at the end of the day, common sense is going to persuade the governor to sign this bill,” Woerner continued.