LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Gov. Tony Evers today signed three bills in La Crosse to help address substance use and overdose deaths in Wisconsin.

“Substance misuse has ravaged families and communities across our state, which has affected not only many Wisconsinites’ own health and safety but the well-being of their families and loved ones, too. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only further underscored challenges for folks working to overcome mental health crises and substance use disorders,” said Gov. Evers. “Tragically, fentanyl has played a serious role in overdose deaths across the country, and these bills are an important step toward reducing substance misuse and overdose deaths here in our state. We have to keep working to invest in getting folks and families the treatment and support they need to overcome these challenges.”

Preliminary data of 2020 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year in U.S. history; more than 93,000 people died, representing a 30 percent increase from the previous 12-month period. CDC data also shows that 75 percent of these overdose deaths were opioid-related, and that synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. In Wisconsin, the CDC estimates that in 2020 alone, there were more than 1,200 opioid-related overdose deaths, underscoring the importance of the governor’s action today.

Senate Bill 352, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 179:

Creates a graduated penalty structure for manufacturing, distributing, or delivering fentanyl (or fentanyl analogs) or possessing it with intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it.

Senate Bill 600, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 180:

Specifies that materials used to test for the presence of fentanyl or a fentanyl analog in a substance are not drug paraphernalia.

Senate Bill 49, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 181:

Requires the Department of Administration, in collaboration with the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), to issue a request for proposal, subject to approval by the Joint Committee on Finance under a 14-day passive review, to establish and maintain a data system to collect, format, analyze, and disseminate information on opioid and methamphetamines use.


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