Opioid Abatement Authority bills pass House and Senate

March 2, 2021

HB 2322 (Herring) and SB 1469 (Barker) have passed both houses and are expected to be signed into law by the Governor. This legislation creates a new body called the Opioid Abatement Authority as a means of receiving, approving and disbursing funds that are forthcoming as a result of potential opioid litigation settlements involving Virginia state and local public bodies. The legislation does a number of things including creating a fund, appointing authority members, establishing the powers and duties of the authority, creating a method for disbursement of funds, and establishing reporting requirements.

The Authority would receive money from settlements, judgments, verdicts court orders and the like related to litigation involving the manufacture, marketing , distribution, and sale of opioids. The money will be used to provide grants and loans to Virginia agencies and localities for the purpose of treating, preventing, and reducing opioid use. Under the legislation the Office of the Attorney General shall assist with administration of the fund including an apportionment formula.

The Board of Directors would consist of 11 members to include (i) the Secretary of Health and Human Resources or his designee; (ii) the Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations or his designee and the Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations or his designee; (iii) an elected member of the governing body of a participating locality, to be selected from a list of three submitted jointly by the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League; (iv) one representative of a community services board or behavioral health authority serving an urban or suburban region containing participating localities and one representative of a community services board or behavioral health authority serving a rural region containing participating localities, each to be selected from lists of three submitted by the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards; (v) one sheriff of a participating locality, to be selected from a list of three submitted by the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association; (vi) one licensed, practicing county or city attorney of a participating locality, to be selected from a list of three submitted by the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia; (vii) two medical professionals with expertise in public and behavioral health administration or opioid use disorders and their treatment; and (viii) one representative of the addiction and recovery community.

The Authority would establish criteria to evaluate and make awards from the fund, employ staff for the Authority and report annually on its activity. The allocations listed in the bill include for every deposit to the Fund, the Authority shall allocate a portion to the following purposes:

  1. Fifteen percent shall be restricted for use by state agencies;
  2. Fifteen percent shall be restricted for use by participating localities, provided that if the terms of a settlement, judgment, verdict, or other court order, or any agreement related thereto between the Attorney General and participating localities, require this portion to be distributed according to a local apportionment formula, this portion shall be distributed in accordance with such formula;
  3. Thirty-five percent shall be restricted for use for regional efforts; and
  4. Thirty-five percent shall be unrestricted. Unrestricted funds may be used to fund the Authority’s staffing and administrative costs and may be distributed for use by state agencies, by participating localities, or for regional efforts in addition to the amounts set forth in subdivisions 1, 2, and 3, provided that the Authority shall ensure that such funds are used to accomplish the purposes of this article or invested under subsection F.

Although the litigation has not yet been settled, the idea would be that any local entity that agrees to the settlement of the cases ( whether they actually filed suit or not, if they agree to the settlement) would be able to benefit from grants and loans from the Authority.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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