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Opioid Settlement Money A Matter Of Public Concern

You are currently viewing Opioid Settlement Money A Matter Of Public Concern
  • Post category:News

Using a law called the Right-to-Know Law, we asked all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and 10 district attorneys’ offices for their reports. These agencies were given $141 million for 2022 and 2023. They’re expected to get even more money in the future.

By March 15, counties had to send detailed spending reports to the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust. This group has been secretive and hasn’t let the public speak at meetings before. This is the first time they’ve had to receive these reports.

There’s a board of 13 people who oversee this money. They can decide to hold back or cut funding if they think counties spent it the wrong way. But the rules for spending are broad and can be interpreted in different ways.

Even though the trust is supposed to follow public meetings law, they decided to review the spending reports privately first.

They’ll then make recommendations to the full board. The chair of the trust said they’ll share spending information with the public after they’ve voted on it.

But for now, the reports we got give us an idea of what the trust will be voting on. We can see how counties spent the money and what they plan to do in the future. About thirty public agencies gave us the records we asked for in the first few days after we requested them.

When we asked the trust when they’ll meet to review the recommendations, they didn’t give us a clear answer. They also didn’t say when they’ll share spending information with the public.

On March 21, after we asked again for details and said we’ll make the reports public, the trust shared some limited spending information. They said Pennsylvania counties and other local governments used more than $70 million from the trust to deal with opioid issues. They also said they’ll review the reports in April in small groups.

Their next public meeting is on May 2.

Getting records from 67 counties is a big task. We used a database from the state Office of Open Records and checked individual government websites to make our requests.

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