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Christie State-of-State Focuses On Addiction

Governor Christie speaks to joint session of NJ legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

Governor Chris Christie devoted his final state-of-the-state speech to outlining a plan to fight drug addiction.

Christie told a joint session of the New Jersey legislature that addiction is the single most important issue he wants to address in the final year of his term.

"I will not have the blood of addicted New Jerseyans on my hands by waiting to act. I will not willingly watch another 1,600 of our citizens die and watch their families mourn and suffer."

Christie is proposing increased funding to provide more treatment access for young people, a specific curriculum on opioids in every school, and a rule that would limit initial prescriptions of opioid painkillers to a five-day supply.

"Whether you child lives or dies should not be subject to a denial letter from an insurance company."

Senate President Steve Sweeney says moving quickly on that proposal is the right thing to do.

"There's too many families that can't get their loved ones where they need it and insurance companies are always interfering looking at their bottom line rather than people. So if we can get it done in 30 days I'm going to do everything I can to get it done in 30 days."

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says lawmakers will work with the governor to increase access to treatment, but that won't be the only item on their agenda.

"If we get this one in 30 days we have 11 months to deal with school funding, transportation infrastructure, health care, a lot of issues."

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says addiction is indeed an epidemic and needs a lot of attention, but he disagrees that it's the state's most important issue.

“It is a very important issue because it actually affects lives, it affects many residents of this state, and as there is an epidemic we have to root it out. But we can’t just be singular driven. There’s many challenges and obviously it will be pivotal to hear his budget address as where we’re going.”