MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Wisconsin law enforcement groups are applauding Gov. Scott Walker's signing of seven bills that target the state's heroin epidemic.
"A lot of times people think about drug issues, they think about large urban areas and there's no doubt it's a problem here in Milwaukee. But when it comes to heroin, it's a problem all across our state, particularly growing in our rural areas," said Gov. Walker.
The new laws come as Wisconsin's heroin problem is on the rise. In the last decade, heroin-related deaths have increased five fold. In the four-year span between 2008 and 2012 heroin-related arrests doubled.
"If we reduce that number, we know that people aren't being arrested, they aren't entering the system for heroin use. Chances are those numbers are down, you get fewer deaths as well," said Gov. Walker.
The bills are collectively known as the HOPE legislation -- or Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education. All seven bills were authored by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
The new laws would do the following:
- Grant immunity to drug users who call 911 about overdoses
- Allow all emergency responders to give Narcan (not just medical technicians)
- Allow communities to start drug disposal programs
- Create treatment programs in rural areas
- Require identification to pick up high-risk prescriptions
- Add funding for treatment
- Punish those who violate probation
Gov. Walker also signed a bill that will create regional drug treatment facilities and a bill that creates a system of short-term sanctions for parole and probation violators.
The signing came as little surprise after all seven bills found widespread support and passed both state houses unanimously.