June 30, 2023 at 12:03 p.m.
County names opioid advisory group; meeting schedule set
A cross section of the county has stepped forward to serve on an advisory council that will decide over the next two years how to spend money distributed through settlements in lawsuits, alleging opioid over-prescription and flawed narcotics marketing. The corporate entities involved in this monetary settlement were Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.
In Minnesota, a county gets funding through a state law (formula) enacted by the legislature for equitable use of the court ordered monies, which at this time, will be $2.2 million for Chisago County over the next several years. However this sum could grow as a number of additional opioid lawsuits are still being brought to resolution.
The local advisory council was closed for applicants May 5. The group, under the direction of Chisago County Public Health, developed bylaws and a general outline for meetings and rules. The County Board adopted the list last week of members and appointed Commissioner Marlys Dunne to be Board liaison to the 24-member council.
The backgrounds of the council are varied; ranging from those with personal experience related to opioid addiction, to school district officials, workers in healthcare and recovery, and law enforcement.
If there are requests to be funded by the council, that qualify for an expenditure over $25,000 the county commissioners will need to approve. Council dispersed expenses under $3,000 can be okayed by the Health and Human Services Director and anything between $3,000 and $25,000 the Chisago county administrator has authority to facilitate the expenditure.
The mission of the advisory council is to “...guide the spending of settlement dollars to save lives and prevent further harm in the community.”
The advisory council will meet at least six times in the coming year, but just one session will be a public meeting. At this time the public meeting is meant for municipalities to voice needs related to opioid impacts in their communities, according to the memorandum given to the County Board.
Chisago County saw 92 non-fatal narcotic overdoses in 2020 and seven people died in the county in 2020.