A Growing Crisis; Addressed by the Democratic-NPL

June 5th, 2019

A Growing Crisis; Addressed by the Democratic-NPL

(BISMARCK, ND) – Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure spoke with Joel Heitkamp last Friday on News and Views. He expressed his frustrations with the state and federal delegation doing nothing to address the ever-growing drug crisis on many reservations including Turtle Mountain. Chairman Azure states the tribe is at the point where banishment of non-tribal members, although a reluctant option, might be the only option. “I can ban non-members off the reservation, but I’m reluctant to do that because I feel like it pushes the issue onto the county or the state,” said Chairman Azure.

Although federal legislation was passed to confront the opioid epidemic, it did not result in much more money or resources going to the opioid crisis. Dem-NPL legislators noticed this deficiency and helped to steward bills related to mental health and substance in the State Senate and 10 similarly focused bills in the state House. HB 1103, which passed both chambers, supports opioid treatment programs. Medication units can now be established as part of, but geographically separate from, an opioid treatment program. This new law will allow increased access to treatment in rural and tribal areas.

The lack of these services was deemed the state’s most critical problem by the House Majority Leader during the 2017 session, but little funding or support was dedicated to alleviating it. This session, the unmet need was taken seriously by Dem-NPL legislators who fought for a much-needed infusion of funding and made necessary changes to state law to better serves those with behavioral health needs. With the leadership of the Dem-NPL caucuses, programs were funded for people of all ages, with services spanning prevention, treatment, peer support, and recovery.