- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The support of the governor, attorney general and leaders of both parties in the state legislature was not enough to pass a bill strengthening sentences for serious heroin dealers and expanding the state’s substance abuse treatment programs.

Now, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers says he will ask Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to call state lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session so they can try again.

“If we come up here in five days and spent $300,000 to do something to stop or curb this problem, that would be money well spent,” Stivers said.

State officials estimate a special session would cost taxpayers about $60,000 per day.

Beshear said in a statement that he doesn’t know yet whether a special session is necessary.

“After the end of a long general session, there are always some worthy bills that don’t make it through the legislative process,” he said. “My first priority is to review the 19 bills that we received this week, including the road plan and transportation budget, and take appropriate action on those. It’s too early to determine if a special session on any topic is prudent or needed.”

In recent years, Kentucky lawmakers have passed bills addressing prescription drug abuse and methamphetamine production. And this year, they banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

State lawmakers from both parties decided to target heroin this legislative session after a state report showed overdose deaths from the drug increased 650 percent in Kentucky in 2012. The Senate passed a bill in January that would make high-volume heroin dealers serve longer sentences. It also would have required the state to pay for substance abuse treatment and education programs.

But the House never voted on the bill. Supporters attempted to vote on the bill late Tuesday, but it got caught in a tangle of procedural votes that delayed it past midnight, when the state constitution mandates the legislature must adjourn.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he did not know if Beshear should call for a special session

“That would be his prerogative,” Stumbo said. “I think the governor had a good session. No one gets everything in these sessions that they want.”

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