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6/7/2021 Overdose deaths reports bill signed into law
Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Representative Brandon C. Potter to permanently require the state to analyze overdose deaths to help identify ways to reduce their prevalence has been signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee today.
In 2018, the General Assembly passed legislation that established a temporary requirement that a group of health and public safety professionals must review all overdose deaths in Rhode Island to examine trends and other factors. The group provides an annual report to the General Assembly and the governor. The new legislation  (2021-S 07132021-H 6014) removes the 2020 sunset provision to make the reports a permanent requirement.
“After year with a 25 percent increase in overdose deaths, Rhode Island cannot afford to stop studying what’s fueling all these deaths. We need to know which drugs exactly are the biggest issues, how they are being taken, where they are coming from, the circumstances leading to the death — the more we know, the more we can do to identify ways and resources to prevent more people from being lost to this tragic epidemic,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

“As we’ve seen with the emergence of fentanyl in recent years, the trends in drug overdose deaths change over time, and our state must be able to identify shifts to effectively respond to them. In a sense, looking very closely at the data from all of the people lost can etch out a sliver of hope from this tragedy, since it helps us find ways to save other individuals and families from experiencing the same suffering and heartbreak. We need every tool – especially information – available to us to address the overdose epidemic,” said Rep.resentative Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).

This bill was submitted at the request of the Rhode Island Department of Health.

"The overdose epidemic is a pressing issue for states across our nation. Now more than ever, it is crucial for Rhode Island to continue identifying and examining factors that contribute to the increasing number of deaths to help us respond to this crisis effectively,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I commend Representative Potter and Senator Goodwin for their dedication to getting this legislation passed.”

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923