Dueling plans emerge in Tennessee to fight opioid epidemic

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Democrats are putting forward their own plan to fight the opioid epidemic, just days after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam revealed his initiative.

Statistics from the state of Tennessee show three people die each day in Tennessee from an opioid-related overdose.

Gov. Haslam's plan puts forth $30 million in state and federal funds to fight the epidemic. State Democrats said they want to see the state fork over $250 million.

"The Republican plan to deal with the opioid crisis is a drop in the bucket," Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) said.

Democrats said Haslam's $30 million initiative isn't enough. They said the state can and should do more.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) said the $250 million should be spent out of the state's reserves.

"I've seen us raise more money for highways, I've seen us raise more money for things that paled in comparison to people losing their lives and people suffering from addiction," Parkinson said.

Haslam's proposal is called TN Together, and it was formally introduced last week. Haslam said then he expects the measure to be debated immediately.

Haslam's plan includes: legislation to restrict new opioid prescriptions to a 5-day supply, education efforts in K-12 schools, a $25 million investment in treatment and recovery services, and naloxone for every state trooper.

Opioid overdose deaths are climbing in Tennessee at an alarming rate--up from roughly 700 in 2012 to nearly 1,200 in 2016.

Records from Shelby County Health Department show 474 people died between 2013 and 2016 in Shelby County alone.

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