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March 4, 2020 12:00pm

GLI-backed recovery through employment bill moves forward

Legislation backed by GLI that would empower employers to play a greater role in addressing the substance use disorder crisis passed the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare this morning. Senate Bill 173, sponsored by Senator Matt Castlen, would encourage businesses to retain employees with substance use disorders and help them get treatment by providing clear guidelines on how employers can help staff access treatment. The bill would also relieve employers of certain liabilities after the employee successfully completes a treatment program.

GLI’s  Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Iris Wilbur Glick, testified in support of the bill.

Read her full testimony below.

Over the past year, GLI has collaborated with policymakers, mental health providers, and employers throughout the Commonwealth to craft legislation aimed at helping Kentucky businesses move employees into recovery. Senate Bill 173 is an important first step in changing the culture and stigma in Kentucky by empowering employers with the tools to create a customized program that gives assurance and accountability when faced with addiction.

The chambers of commerce recognize recovery is a life-long commitment. Research on the most effective treatment and prevention strategies routinely illustrates a close connection between employment and recovery. A job brings with it not only a source of income and health care benefits but stability, a sense of purpose, and dignity as well — key components of a sustainable and lasting recovery.

Substance use disorders continue to weigh down labor force participation rates in Kentucky, causing many employers to struggle to fill jobs and retain staff. As a bi-state chamber of commerce, GLI has studied legislation passed by Indiana two years ago that provides employers with the framework, if they choose, to implement drug-treatment policies to help their employees find the help that they need. Their legislation, in partnership with mental health professionals, has allowed employers throughout Indiana to successfully develop internal drug education, treatment, and prevention policies to support employees grappling from addiction. Some Hoosier companies have even received national attention because of their programs.

From our chamber counterparts in Indiana, we heard reports of over 2000 to 2500 inquiries from Hoosier employers expressing interest in these recovery programs. Kentucky needs this legislation to help equip our employers with similar tools to help address the workforce challenges related to substance use disorders. We thank Senators Matt Castlen and Whitney Westerfield for their leadership on this issue and helping the business community reach our goal of expanding Kentucky’s healthy, employable workforce for growth and economic stability. Thank you.