Ky Governor Delivers Final State of the Commonwealth Address

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WSAZ | WSAZ NEWS STAFF AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | JANUARY 7, 2015

Gov. Steve Beshear delivered his final State of the Commonwealth on Wednesday, touching on several issues including heroin abuse, dating violence, smoke-free legislation, early childhood programs and booster seats.

Regarding the heroin problem, Beshear said Kentucky lawmakers must pass a bill that would shield drug users from minor drug charges when they dial 911 to help an overdose victim.

In prepared text for his address, Beshear noted that heroin users made up 32 percent of all Kentucky overdose deaths in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2011. And the number of heroin cases sent to the Kentucky State Police crime lab jumped to more than 4,000 in 2014 from 900 in 2010.

Beshear called for legislation that would spend more money on treatment options while increasing prison sentences for major drug traffickers. The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved a similar law just hours before Beshear spoke. The Senate is scheduled to vote on it Thursday.

Beshear also used his address to urge lawmakers to pass a statewide workplace smoking ban.

Beshear said in prepared text that Kentucky has one of the highest smoking rates in the country, accounting for about $2 billion in health care costs annually. He noted that two-thirds of states already have smoking bans and half of Kentuckians live in cities and counties with local smoking bans.

Historically, Kentucky farmers owe much of their prosperity to the tobacco crop, which has created a strong tobacco culture in the state. Last year, a statewide smoking ban failed to get a vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters Wednesday the body will vote on the ban in 2015.

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