Local leaders praise Evers for signing AB 374, opioid settlement bill into law

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KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ Kenosha County officials Wednesday expressed gratitude after Gov. Tony Evers signed AB 374 into law. The move frees up settlement funds for opioid addiction mitigation and abatement efforts.

2021 Assembly Bill 374 addresses settlement of the multidistrict opiate litigation. In this specific instance, it addresses the multidistrict litigation titled In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, Case No.: MDL 2804. 

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‘Significant sum’ coming to Kenosha County 

As a result, a “significant sum” will be coming to Kenosha County, according to County Executive Jim Kreuser.

However, it is unclear exactly how much or what those funds will specifically go toward at the moment.

“We don’t know exactly how much we will receive, but it will be a significant sum and will make a tremendous difference in Kenosha County’s fight against opioid addiction and our efforts to promote recovery.”

Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser

District Attorney Michael Graveley also praised the bill for seemingly bringing funds back to areas that need it. Graveley further called the county “a leader in opioid prevention and in diversion programs that emphasize recovery and rehabilitation.”

“I am a strong supporter of these efforts, and I’m thankful to Gov. Evers and the Legislature for their work on making sure these settlement dollars get into the communities to help us in our ongoing work to address the opioid epidemic constructively.”

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Legislative Reference Bureau analysis of AB 374

As explained by the Legislative Reference Bureau in its analysis here, AB 374 is: 

A joint settlement agreement of the claims of the state and local governments regarding opioids with any person engaged in the manufacture, marketing, promotion, distribution, or dispensing of an opioid product if all of the following are satisfied: 1) the Joint Committee on Finance approves the proposed settlement agreement under the procedure specified in current law; 2) the settlement agreement identifies 30 percent of the proceeds as payable to the state; and 3) the settlement agreement identifies 70 percent of the proceeds as payable to local governments that are parties to the multidistrict opiate litigation. (AB 474, page 1)

Allocation of state and local funds

The bill also addresses the allocation of state and local funds. The state funds must go to the state Department of Health Services. Those funds will be “for expenditure for purposes that comply with the settlement agreement or court order.”

Local funds must be paid directly only to local governments that are parties to the multidistrict opiate settlement. The analysis further states:

The share of settlement proceeds for such a local government must be deposited by the local government in a segregated account; may not be commingled with other moneys, except for settlement moneys of another local government; must be expended for the purposes identified by the settlement agreement or court order; may be allocated to another political subdivision if used for the same purposes as the local government may expend the moneys; and must be included in the local government’s typical audit process. (AB 374, page 2)

Wisconsin county executives praise new law in letter

Shortly following Evers signing the bill into law, 10 of the state’s county executives released a letter praising the effort. 

“We have spoken with national experts and others closely involved in this litigation, and this bill, signed by Governor Evers, is model legislation for states and for county governments across the nation. We are so proud to lead the effort in finding solutions for our communities that have been ravaged by opioids.”

They, likewise, touted the new law as “a great example of the legislature and the governor coming together to do what is best for families in Wisconsin who have been afflicted by the opioid crisis.”

“As a result of this legislation, counties will receive needed resources to assist individuals and families who have been affected by the misuse and abuse of opioids.”

Letter of 10 Wisconsin county executives

“Our urban centers and rural communities have been battling this epidemic, and we are grateful for Governor Evers’ recognition that Wisconsin’s citizens cannot afford to wait even one day longer.”

To learn more about the bill, its history and also any amendments along the way, visit https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/proposals/ab374.

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