NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy this week signed a bill (S-783) to codify the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Advisory Council into law and establish an Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund – building on steps taken via Executive Order No. 305 last year to help New Jersey determine how best to utilize opioid settlement funds to address the opioid crisis, which has tragically taken over 14,000 lives in New Jersey over the past five years alone.
New Jersey and various counties and municipalities throughout the state have signed onto nationwide settlement agreements with several opioid manufacturers and distributors for their involvement in the ongoing opioid epidemic. Over the next two decades, more than $600 million in funds from settlements in 2021 will be divided amongst the participating State and local governments in New Jersey.
“This legislation will further enable our ongoing efforts to address the impact of the opioid crisis on our state,” Murphy said. “With thorough input from subject matter experts and those with lived experiences regarding the use of these settlement funds, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of countless New Jersey residents and communities that have been affected by this crisis.”
The legislation establishes a non-lapsing fund within the Department of Treasury where the State’s share of settlement funds will be deposited and eventually distributed as determined by the State, with recommendations from the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Advisory Council. The Department of Human Services will be the lead agency for allocation and disbursement of the funding.
The purpose of the Advisory Council established in the prior executive order and codified by this week’s legislation is to make recommendations for the Administration’s consideration regarding the prioritization and effective use of the State’s share of the settlement funds in ways that align with the terms of the settlements. This builds on the hundreds of millions of dollars the Murphy Administration has already invested to reduce harm and save lives through innovation and evidence-based initiatives across state agencies.
The settlement funding must go towards goals such as treating opioid use disorder, addressing the needs of justice-involved individuals, offering harm reduction services, preventing overdose deaths, supporting relevant research and training, and other similar ways of combating the opioid epidemic.
Appointments to the council were made in December 2022. The council is chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and includes members such as the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Health, Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, public health and policy experts, and individuals with lived experience with the opioid epidemic.
“I thank the Governor and the legislative sponsors for codifying the work of the Council to help ensure that settlement funds are used effectively for years to come,” said Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “The Council has already begun its important work and through this new law, will remain focused on funding strategies to save lives, end the epidemic and support people and communities harmed by this crisis.”
“The opioid epidemic has shattered communities and taken too many lives prematurely,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Although no amount of money could undo the pain caused by this crisis, these historic settlements will bring various lifesaving programs focusing on drug prevention, harm reduction, and recovery to New Jersey. We are using every tool to hold drug companies accountable for their actions and prevent another community from suffering. I thank Governor Murphy for his leadership, and for preserving the council’s critical work to ensure these funds help improve and save the lives of our residents.”
To enable implementation of this legislation, the Governor concurrently signed Executive Order No. 323 this week, which rescinds the prior executive order (No. 305) and clarifies that all aspects of the previously-established council – including its members – will carry over under the new law.
Sponsors of the bill include Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblyman Daniel Benson, as well as Senator James Beach and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli.