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Bill that would expand meth treatment advances

A bill that would provide more than $600,000 for intensive methamphetamine treatment is moving on to the Joint Appropriations Committee. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee advanced the measure on a 6-1 vote Wednesday morning. A harbin...

Methamphetamine problem (Republic photo illustration)
Methamphetamine problem (Republic photo illustration)

A bill that would provide more than $600,000 for intensive methamphetamine treatment is moving on to the Joint Appropriations Committee.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee advanced the measure on a 6-1 vote Wednesday morning.

A harbinger that the proposal could fare well is that Gov. Dennis Daugaard has included $603,740 for the state Department of Social Services to expand meth treatment in his proposed budget.

Beyond that, nobody spoke against the bill during Wednesday’s hearing.

Amy Iversen-Pollreisz, deputy secretary with the Department of Social Services, said the number of meth-related cases continues to rise in South Dakota and methamphetamine-specific treatment is needed.

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The money could be used for detox, in-patient treatment, halfway houses and aftercare, she said.

Iversen-Pollreisz said the number of people with primary diagnoses of a methamphetamine problem admitted to accredited facilities in South Dakota increased 14 percent in fiscal year 2016 and 13 percent in fiscal year 2015.

The national increase in 2015 was 8 percent, she said.

About a decade ago, during Mike Rounds’ time as governor, an anti-meth program was started at the women’s prison, and the state began a Meth Makes You Ugly promotion. Iversen-Pollreisz was not working for the Department of Social Services then. But, she said, generally speaking past programs to combat methamphetamine abuse have helped in that less is produced in the state. That’s because it’s more difficult to get the ingredients to make it. She said that more recently, according to information she’s heard, meth abuse is fueled by the drug being shipped into South Dakota.

Other officials have also noted that as an ongoing problem.

Terry Dosch, executive director of the South Dakota Council of Substance Abuse Directors, also testified in favor of the bill. He said residential and detox services for people who struggle with meth are especially rare in the center of the state.

Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, noted that the committee heard a lot of testimony about methamphetamine and opioid abuse Wednesday. To him, the money to expand treatment is part of the solution to the meth problem.

Sen. Arthur Rusch, R-Vermillion, said that if the measure helps keep addicts out of prison, it’s worth backing. He’s a retired state judge.

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Without commenting, Sen. Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, voted against advancing the proposal to Appropriations.

The bill has an emergency clause. That means if it’s signed into law, it would take immediate effect.

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