This week, Rochester Senator Joe Robach joined with his colleagues in the New York State Senate passed 23 bills to address issues surrounding the increase in heroin and opioid abuse, addiction, and related crimes in Rochester and New York. The bills are part of a comprehensive legislative package proposed by the bipartisan New York StatRobach Rochester Heroine Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in a report released in May.

The bill package passed begin the legislative response laid out in the report to prevent drug abuse and overdoses; increase the availability and efficacy of addiction treatment; and enhance the tools provided to law enforcement to keep heroin off the streets. The task force report released last month proposed a package of bills to target the prevention, treatment, and enforcement issues raised during extensive testimony provided by dozens of experts, parents, and concerned New Yorkers during 18 forums held throughout the state.

Rochester Senator Joe Robach sponsored, S. 7657, legislation that would create an A-I felony for the unlawful transportation or sale of an opioid that causes the death of another. This legislation was sponsored because heroin use is steadily on the rise. This law would hold drug dealers accountable for the true cost of their activities, significantly diminish the open availability of these dangerous drugs on the streets and give district attorneys-the necessary tools to work up the criminal chain to the ultimate supplier because facing life imprisonment for any amount of drugs that results in death is a profound disincentive to sell drugs within the state of New York.

This law seeks to punish those individuals involved in the illegal drug trade and is not intended to punish those individuals who are merely co-users. Therefore a co-user who shares the drugs with the victim still has an incentive to follow the current good Samaritan law and save the other person as he or she will be able to avoid prosecution for homicide by sale of an opiate controlled substance and instead admit to a lower felony because it still is a distribution.