Lawmakers want public health emergency declared for addiction crisis

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Some Ohio lawmakers want Governor John Kasich to declare a public health emergency to deal with the ongoing addiction crisis in Ohio.

In a bipartisan resolution, House Resolution 510, some members of the House urged Kasich to direct state money toward research, prevention, education and treatment.

Representative Hearcel Craig, one of the resolution’s cosponsors, said the state needs to take a unified approach to deal with the crisis, which he called a “life-or-death issue.”

“Eight people are dying every single day,” Craig said. “And when we say that this is a crisis, that’s not hyperbole.”

Emmalee Kalmbach, the press secretary for the governor’s office, said that “there is no specific authority under Ohio law to declare a ‘public health’ emergency,” noting that the governor “may declare an emergency for a variety of reasons (including for public health) to authorize certain actions not granted in stature and rules without an emergency declaration.”

As some lawmakers have pointed out, that included an order this past summer for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Kalmbach also added, “However, even if the governor were able to issue a ‘public health’ alert/notice/advisory, there isn’t [a] faucet of money that will automatically turn on and flow. At the end of the day, regardless the state of the issue, the governor is already treating this drug epidemic with a sense of urgency.”

The governor’s office and the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said that the state has allotted close to $1 billion in fiscal year 2016 alone to fight the epidemic, from lifesaving doses of naloxone to Medicaid benefits for mental health and addiction.

But lawmakers such as Craig believe more can be done.

“This is a life-and-death issue that I believe that we’ve got to find the appropriate resources,” Craig said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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