(Shutterstock image)
(Shutterstock image)

With session coming to an end, governor approves bills to address opioid epidemic, make sexually assaulting an animal a felony

Gov. Tony Evers was a busy man Tuesday, signing 60 bills into law, including several that address the state’s ongoing opioid epidemic and another that makes it a felony to sexually assault an animal.

Evers passed four more bills designed to combat substance abuse in Wisconsin in what has become known as the HOPE – heroin, opiate, prevention and education – agenda. The bills are sponsored by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marienette, and passed with bipartisan support. 

Signing the four bills into law Tuesday brings the total number of HOPE bills passed since 2013 to 34.


“While there is always more work to be done, more lives to save, and more avenues to recovery that need opening, today’s actions are another arrow in the state’s quiver to combat substance abuse,” said Nygren, whose daughter struggles with substance abuse. 

According to Nygren’s office, there was a 10 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths last year.

Of the four bills passed into law, one would require the Wisconsin Department of Health services to create an overdose treatment program that encourages providers to encourage patients to seek treatment following an overdose.

Another would prevent state employees from being disciplined for using or possessing a controlled substance if they are using it under a doctor’s order as part of an addiction-treatment plan.

Another would give county jails the ability to obtain naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. This bill would also train guards on how to administer the drug.

The fourth and final bill prolongs a prescription drug monitoring program from the end of this April until April of 2025. The program requires pharmacies and others who dispense monitored prescription drugs to document and track what they are giving to patients.

“We have to do more to expand access to healthcare across our state, and that includes bolstering our efforts for substance use disorder treatment and recovery services,” said Evers in a statement. “Folks have seen firsthand how substance use disorder—especially opioid use—has torn apart families and communities across our state, and we need to get serious about tackling this issue in Wisconsin.”

Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, sponsored the bill to upgrade sexually assaulting an animal from a misdemeanor to a felon, following repeat incidents of a Brown County man molesting horses. 

That bill also passed with bipartisan support.