Matzie: Bipartisan effort is our only option in ending opioid crisis

HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, joined Gov. Tom Wolf and a group of bipartisan legislators today for a Capitol news conference to highlight details of a joint effort to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in the state.

In the Rotunda, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody joined Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, Majority Leader David Reed and other House members to announce the completion of recommendations from the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation.

“For the past several years, the General Assembly has been focused on the opioid and heroin crisis gripping our state,” Matzie said. “While there is still much to do to wipe this scourge from our communities, today represents progress in that fight. The recommendations from the task force will make a real difference in ending this crisis.”

The Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, which was created through the adoption of a resolution in 2014, made several legislative recommendations, including H.B. 1737 and H.R. 590, both of were recently approved by the House. Also announced at the news conference was a special legislative session focused on the opioid crisis, which is expected to be convened in September.

“This issue isn’t a partisan one. Individuals from all across our state and from all walks of life have fallen victim to addiction,” Matzie said. “As a member of the Health Committee, I have seen members from both sides of the aisle put their differences aside to focus on solutions and I have been glad to join them in that effort. I will continue to do whatever is needed to finally stem the opioid crisis.” 

Matzie, who has long been focused on finding solutions to end the opioid crisis, recently attended a public hearing held by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania focused on the issue.

“Personally, my childhood friend Amy Scherfel-Watkins’ son, Brooks, was a victim of a heroin overdose in Washington County last year. Since then, Amy, her husband and her family have been telling the story about the devastation their family has endured, hoping to capture the attention of anybody and everybody,” Matzie said after the hearing. “As she told me, if they can help even one person, then their son’s purpose here on earth will be fulfilled. I echo those statements and believe as a parent and a policy maker it is my duty to do all that I can to end this epidemic that is affecting families across Pennsylvania and our nation.”