Utah man pushing for action on opioid crisis in memory of son

Politics

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – The state legislature has three weeks left in this year’s session to, among other things address the state’s opioid crisis.

About 24 Utahns die every month from an opioid overdose. That’s how Dennis Cecchini lost his son almost three years ago.

“At some point we have to stop doing business as usual, and start doing extraordinary things to save the lives of our children,” said Cecchini.

Cecchini is dedicated to making that happen as an advocate on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

Like past years, state lawmakers have rolled out a number of bills to take on the issue.

One, attacks the problem at the distribution level by creating a homicide charge for dealers.

Representative Steve Eliason is sponsoring house bill 309. He explained his motivation before the session started.

“There’s an alarming trend that we are seeing now days where fentanyl is being mixed in with other opioids, and it’s created a surge in overdose deaths. The dealers that are distributing this know that, and are putting people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Eliason, (R) Sandy.

House Bill 127, sponsored by Representative Justin Fawson would make some amendments to the state’s Substance Control Database.

It would require prescribers to check the database before handing out a Schedule II or III opioid.

“A doctor can, or prescriber can identify a person who is having a substance abuse disorder problem, and then take them aside and start to counsel them,” said Cecchini.

Other bills this year would target doctors who write prescriptions outside the guidelines, and require warning labels and information pamphlets to be handed out with opioid prescriptions.

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes is also making a big push to sue opioid manufacturers. He says they should be held accountable for their role in the crisis.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...