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Opioid Policy Fellows 2020

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The Opioid Policy Fellows program is designed to support legislators who are experienced or emerging leaders on opioid addiction and overdose issues. This meeting introduced fellows to the year-long program and will build learning in a peer setting. The meeting goals include:

  • Build knowledge about new research, policy and innovations.
  • Exchange ideas and solutions with other legislative leaders related to opioid misuse and overdose and related issues.
  • Connect with leading researchers and policy experts.
  • Identify practical information to use in your state and develop action steps.

Contact the Health Program to request speaker presentations from the Opioid Policy Fellows meetings.

Meet the Fellows

  • Representative Craig Lipscomb, Alabama
  • Representative Marsh Davis, Arkansas
  • Representative Jack Ladyman, Arkansas
  • Senator Rhonda Fields, Colorado
  • Representative Christopher Todd, Hawaii
  • Senator James Merritt, Indiana
  • Senator Stephen Meredith, Kentucky
  • Senator Beth Mizell, Louisiana
  • Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes, Maryland
  • Senator Julian Cyr, Massachusetts
  • Senator Curt VanderWall, Michigan
  • Senator William White, Missouri
  • Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, New Jersey
  • Senator Julia Ratti, Nevada
  • Representative Wayne Sasser, North Carolina
  • Representative T.J. Marti, Oklahoma
  • Senator Darrell Weaver, Oklahoma
  • Senator Jose Rivera, New York
  • Representative Jay West, South Carolina
  • Representative Marybeth Redmond, Vermont
  • Senator Manka Dhingra, Washington
  • Representative Nicole Macri, Washington

Opioid Policy Fellows Kickoff  Meeting

Held at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown in Austin, Texas

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020
Time Description
7:30-8 a.m. Registration, Breakfast & Networking
8-9 a.m.

Welcome and Overview

Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL
Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL
Kate Blackman, NCSL
Erica Reott, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

9-9:40 a.m.

Setting the Stage
Speakers provided an overview of the opioid epidemic and discuss recent federal actions as well as funding available to states.

Moderator: Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL
Speaker: Dr. Cherie Rooks-Peck, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

9:40-10:35 a.m.

Dialogue with State Health Officials
State health officials discussed efforts in their states, including challenges and successes. State health officials and Fellows will have the opportunity to discuss issues in their own states and ask questions of each other.

Moderator: Tahra Johnson, NCSL
Speakers: Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Arkansas Department of Health
Dr. Jay Butler, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

10:45-11:05 a.m. Action Planning—“Think, Pair, Share”
11:05-11:40 a.m.

Emerging Challenges in Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) have emerged as a leading strategy for states to prevent and intervene in opioid misuse. This session highlighted emerging challenges and solutions including using and integrating PDMP data in key health provider settings.

Moderator: Kate Blackman, NCSL
Speaker: Sherry Green, Sherry L. Green & Associates, LLC

11:50 a.m.-12:50 p.m.

Lunch and Brain Science of Addiction
The speaker discussed the science behind addiction and participants will have the opportunity to explore the implications for policymakers.

Moderator: Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL
Speakers: Dr. Maher Karam-Hage, University of Texas

1-2:15 p.m.

On the Continuum of Care: Recovery and Support
This session focused on state policies and programs designed to facilitate treatment, recovery and long term supports.

Moderator: Karmen Hanson, NCSL
Speakers: Aaron Williams, National Council for Behavioral Health
Dave Sheridan, National Alliance for Recovery Residences

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Infectious Disease Consequences of the Opioid Crisis
This session provided an overview of the infectious disease consequences of the opioid crisis. Speakers will share state strategies for prevent and intervention to reduce transmission rates and prevent outbreaks.

Moderator: Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL
Speakers: Dr. Jay Butler, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3:45-4:45 p.m. Interactive Session—Networking and Action Planning
Fellows had the opportunity to speak with their colleagues about their challenges and successes. This peer-learning opportunity gave Fellows time to continue their action plan based on their conversations with peers.
4:45-5 p.m. Wrapup
Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020
Time Description
8-8:30 a.m. Breakfast and Networking
Participants had the opportunity to informally network and discuss key topics in their home states.
8:30-10 a.m.

Converging Crises: Opioid Use, Suicide and Adverse Childhood Experiences
Substance use disorders and suicide have both claimed the lives of roughly 700,000 Americans since 1999. These crises share many overlapping risk and protective factors and many strategies can prevent deaths by both causes. This session explored this overlap with a particular focus on the role of adverse childhood experience on later health outcomes.

Moderator: Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL
Speakers: Dr. Christopher Jones, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

10:15-11:15 a.m.

Opioids in the Courtroom
This session provided an overview of the ongoing opioid litigation across the 50 states. The session will pay particular attention to process involved with the consolidated case in Ohio, how settlements may be determined and the role of state legislatures in this process.

Moderator: Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL
Speaker: Paul Singer, senior counsel to the attorney general for public protection, Texas Attorney General’s Office

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Medicaid Strategies
This session covered strategies to address the opioid crisis through your state’s Medicaid program. This will include a discussion of the various waivers available and innovative treatment programs.

Moderator: Karmen Hanson, NCSL
Speaker: Emily Blanford, NCSL

12:45-1:30 p.m.

Looking Down the Road
This session focused on the opioid epidemic as a part of a larger addiction crisis and the ways that leaders in all sectors can approach and intervene in the crisis.

Moderator: Kate Blackman, NCSL
Speakers: Patty McCarthy, executive director, Faces & Voices of Recovery

1:30-2 p.m. Action Planning and Wrapup

Second Meeting

Virtual Zoom Meeting: Policy Solutions and Innovations
September 9 - 10, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Time Description
11-11:15 a.m.


Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL
Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL
Elizabeth Zurick, NCSL

11:15-12 p.m.

Fellows Report Out
This session will provide an opportunity for Fellows to share their challenges and successes since the last meeting. Fellows will provide updates on their action plans and share new developments, policies and programs in their states.

Moderators: Charlie Severance-Medaris and Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL
12-12:30 p.m.

The “Fourth Wave” of the Opioid Epidemic
The first three “waves” of the opioid epidemic saw rises in overdose due to prescription opioids, then heroin and finally synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Now, addiction experts talk of a cresting fourth wave in the epidemic: the widespread use of stimulants and other illicit drugs alongside opioids. Fellows will have the opportunity to learn about these three waves and the impacts and policy options for a fourth wave.

Moderator: Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL

Speakers: Dr. Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

1-2:30 p.m.

Non-Traditional Partners: Criminal Justice System
This session will focus on collaboration between health and justice system actors at various levels of government to improve outcomes for individuals. Faculty will highlight strategies such as deflection and diversion as well as talk about success with integration of medication-assisted treatment into various parts of the justice system.

Moderator: Amber Widgery, NCSL

Speakers: Hon. Peter J. Koutoujian, Sheriff, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Hon. John Tilley, Senior Fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice, former Kentucky state representative & former Secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

Thursday, September 10, 2020
Time Description
11-12:30 p.m.

Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy – Intersection with Criminal Justice

Opioid Policy Fellows and Maternal and Child Health Fellows will learn about substance use and its intersection with pregnant women, neonatal abstinence syndrome and system level connections. The session will provide the opportunity for discussing solutions and sharing state strategies.

Moderator: Tammy Jo Musgraves, NCSL

Speakers: Dr. Deepa Nagar, NICU Medical Director/Chair Department of Peds and Co-Director of the EMPOWERED program

Andria Peterson, PharmD, Co-Director of the EMPOWERED program

Duane Slone, Circuit Court Judge, 4th Judicial District, State of Tennessee and Chairman, Appalachian-Midwestern Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative

1-1:45 p.m.

COVID-19 and the Opioid Epidemic

This session will focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the ongoing opioid epidemic. Speakers will focus on the changes to treatment modalities, including telehealth, and how states have innovated to prevent misuse and overdose during the pandemic.

Moderator: Charlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL

Speaker: Dr. Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Ph.D., Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics & Law and Professor of Health Policy and Management, Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, University of Southern California

1:45 -2:15 p.m. Action Planning
2:15-2:30 p.m. Wrap Up and Report Out


As part of the Opioid Policy Fellows program, Fellows are required to participate in two webinars. Topics and speakers will be announced when available.

  • Webinar 1: Friday, Feb. 21, 2020
  • Webinar 2: Friday, April 10, 2020
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.