Vermont State Representative Felisha Leffler
State Representative Felisha Leffler's office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 3/12/2019 11:13:02 AM.
What district of Vermont do you represent?
Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?
Expansive, Pervasive, and Evolving.
What are the two or three most significant bills that have been introduced in your chamber to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state?
First off, pardon my bias, would be the bill I introduced H.466. This bill really was crafted as a collective effort between myself, some of Governor’s Scott’s staff, and members from Department of Labor. I wanted to see a way for people in recovery to have a pathway back into the workforce and participation into their communities. This is a huge part of lasting recovery. This bill works from the employer angle to reduce the barriers to employment that people affected by the opioid epidemic might have. This bill is due to process out of committee by the end of the week as part of a larger workforce development bill.
Secondly, H.174 is important to curb the flow of addiction beginning with prescribed narcotics. It’s an interesting bill that I’m excited to see come forward.
Thirdly, would be H.393. I had less involvement with this bill, however it raises some crucial education & prevention pieces.
What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?
I was a I drafted and sponsored H.466. I co-sponsored H.174, and H.393 I didn’t have involvement in introducing.
Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?
Not yet, these were all introduced this session and have not yet passed out of committee.
What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?
Most memorable was certainly the experience of being able to listen to and learn from the personal experiences shared with me by people in recovery, those that work with those affected by the opioid crisis both directly with recovery as well as the secondary and tertiary effects. The lack of understanding of the scope of the pervasiveness and strikingly expansive reach that this crisis has. Hearing what works, what doesn’t, and how we can improve really helps give a hope of finding the light at the end of the tunnel and how we get there.
If you had a magic wand that allowed you to pass any legislation you wanted in order to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state, what would that legislation look like?
I’d love to say that there is a perfect legislative solution to this crisis, however, I don’t think that with the nation grappling with this issue we’ve overlooked the solution to introduce and solve the issue. I want better transportation assistance to treatment centers and counseling for people in my rural state and very rural my district. I would want so much more effective preventative education. I want to make it easy and encouraged to come forward and seek treatment. There’s a thousand things to do to attack this issue and try and solve the crisis, but different states need different solutions and different people need different treatment. This is a human issue and there’s not a perfect solution here.