Capitol Alert

Opioid abuse in California has a new adversary

Assemblyman Evan Low on the floor of the state Assembly.
Assemblyman Evan Low on the floor of the state Assembly.

California lawmakers are opening a new front in their war on opiate abuse.

The state had 1,925 opioid-linked overdose deaths in 2016, and thousands of emergency room visits. As documented by The Sacramento Bee’s Claudia Buck last year, the number of babies born affected by drugs has nearly doubled over seven years to more than 3,630 in 2015, according to data from state public health officials.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee will hold a hearing to explore ways the state can leverage its status as the cradle of technology to take on the opioid addiction crisis. Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low and his colleagues have offered a slate of proposals to address physician over-prescribing and other culprits.

“The opioid crisis has destroyed lives and devastated families,” Low said ahead of the hearing. “It is our obligation to implement solutions to the opioid crisis and have informed discussions with experts in the field about the challenges and tools at our disposal.”

Planned speakers include Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health; Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, California Health Care Foundation; Tina Farales of the Attorney General’s office; Brian Clifford from the Department of Consumer Affairs; Virginia Herold, California Board of Pharmacy; and Kimberly Kirchmeyer, Medical Board of California.

The hearing, at 9 a.m. in Room 4202, also will look at the state database that tracks prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances.

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— Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, on a 74-0 vote in the Assembly on her long-stalled whistleblower protections bill, which heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, which he immediately signed.

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THE ‘OTHER’ CARD: Democratic gubernatorial candidates John Chiang, Delaine Eastin and Antonio Villaraigosa will be talking climate change and pollution at California Environmental Justice Alliance Action’s forum in Huntington Park. It’s happening at 6:30 p.m., 6925 Salt Lake Ave.

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SO LONG, FAREWELL: David Kieffer, the director of government relations in Sacramento for SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, has retired. His duties are being assumed by the union’s political director, Arianna Jimenez.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago