NEW INFORMATION: Walker signs 11 bills to fight opioids

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WEAU) -- On Monday Governor Scott Walker signed four bills into law in Onalaska, all having to do with the opioid crisis in Wisconsin.

Walker was joined by local law enforcement and health care leaders outside Onalaska's police department, hoping to put a dent in the fight against opioid abuse.

The bills he signed are meant to help law enforcement, schools, and health care providers focus on treatment and recovery.

"This is one of those where it affects small towns and big towns alike, rich or poor, doesn't matter party affiliation, religious affiliation, anything else," Walker said. "This is something that's affecting families and friends all across the state."

Members of the La Crosse area's drug task force say the laws could have a big impact on western Wisconsin.

"We've got increased funding for treatment and diversion, increased funding for healthcare providers for education in particular throughout the state having more residency trained addiction specialists," said Dr. Chris Eberlein, an ER Physician at Gundersen Health System.

"This gives us a few more tools to try to deal with this scourge in cities across America," said Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen. "It's just a scourge and the more tools we have the better we'll be able to fight this."

Walker signed a total of eleven bills Monday, all targeting opioid abuse.

He made two other stops near Wausau and Green Bay.

He said he chose to sign them all in different locations to show that the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin has no borders.

Democratic senator Jennifer Shilling called Walker's response to the opioid epidemic "limited," and said more focus should be put on the state budget and access to insurance.

"In the meantime there are still some deep cuts that are being proposed to healthcare in this country and in this state, and people, that's the first step," Shilling said. "They need to have insurance coverage so they can access treatment, so they can begin the road to recovery."

Eberlein says it could take a few years to see these bills have any long-term effects.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to sign nearly a dozen bills designed to combat opioid addiction at stops around the state.

The governor is slated to sign four bills in De Pere, four more bills in Onalaska and three bills in Schofield on Monday.

Walker called a special legislative session in January to pass the bills, calling opioid addiction a public health crisis in Wisconsin. The Legislature still took more than five months to pass all the measures.

The bills include measures that ensure someone who overdoses would be immune from probation or parole revocation if he or she enters a treatment program, allow school nurses to administer overdose antidotes and allow emergency and involuntary commitment for drug addicts.

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