Hannah McKenzie Act Sent to Governor

Monday, 15 May 2023 17:36

Hannah McKenzie Act Sent to Governor Featured

Written by Rick West
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I accepted Senate amendments last week on my House Bill 2686. This bill would better regulate opioid substitution treatment programs operating in our state by ensuring they comply with all federal regulations. One stipulation would be observed drug testing services.

We've named this the Hannah McKenzie Act after a young woman in our House district who died after being illegally administered Methadone by someone who received a take-home supply of the drug.

Hannah's parents, Mark and Shana McKenzie from Pocola, have fought hard for this legislation to prevent such a tragedy from happening to anyone else. Before the death of their daughter, they had never heard of Methadone. After conducting their own research and reaching out to many state agencies and officials, including me, they found that methadone clinics are large unregulated in our state, with very little tracking, oversight or accountability.

Methadone is a Schedule II substance, the same category as cocaine and methamphetamine. Yet clinics are allowed to give take-home supplies of the drug with no observance of drug testing to ensure recipients are complying with the stipulations of the program.

Investigators have observed recipients of this drug buying and selling urine in the parking lot of clinics before they are drug tested for other substances or for overuse of methadone. In the instance that resulted in the death of Hannah McKenzie, the recipient of the methadone had failed a drug test 47 times in 13 years, yet still received a take-home supply. This legislation seeks to keep something like this from happening again.

With the amendments adopted, this bill now moves to the governor for his consideration of signing it into law. It's been a long fight for Mark and Shana McKenzie, but if this bill can save just one life, it will be worth their efforts. I'm glad I was in a position to help them.

On a final note, I've been getting lots of calls about education funding. The leadership of the House and Senate are still far apart on this issue. The House has advocated increased funding for public schools and teacher pay raises, but we want added support for our rural schools. The Senate hasn't yet budged on this portion of the plan. We have until May 19 to get a budget to the governor if we want enough time to override any potential veto. Everyone says they don't want a special session. We'll see what happens this week.

As always, if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at rick.west@okhouse.gov.

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