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DAILY PILOT: Political Landscape: Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris announces bipartisan working group to tackle issues in addiction treatment

Excerpted from Los Angeles Times

By Luke Money

State Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) has convened a group of her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to create a legislative coalition to tackle issues and challenges in California’s addiction-treatment industry.

“For years, attempts to address substance abuse treatment have fallen flat and people are dying,” Petrie-Norris said in a statement Tuesday announcing the Legislative Substance Abuse Treatment Working Group.

“The scope of this crisis is too big for just one bill,” she said. “We have formed a bipartisan working group to focus on moving policies that stop exploitation in the recovery industry, establish standards for treatment programs and providers and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being directed to proven programs that work.”

Joining her in the group are state Sens. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), along with Assembly members Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), Bill Brough (R-Dana Point), Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Marie Waldron (R-Escondido).

“Through this working group, we will come together to craft smart, bipartisan solutions to one of the most important public health threats facing our state,” Waldron said in a statement.

California, like many states, is in the throes of an opioid addiction epidemic. There were 2,196 opioid overdose deaths statewide in 2017 alone, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Critics in recent years have decried the operation of unscrupulous or unlicensed addiction-treatment facilities throughout the state, which they say prey on vulnerable patients by luring them in with deceptive marketing, providing substandard services and unceremoniously evicting them when their insurance ends or they run out of money — leaving them on the street with nowhere else to go.

Residents in some cities, such as Costa Mesa, also have lambasted the proliferation of sober-living homes, which typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who are considered disabled under state and federal laws. Opponents say such facilities create quality-of-life issues in residential neighborhoods, including problems with traffic, parking, noise, litter and crime.

Petrie-Norris represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.