Opioid crisis: Sen. Marco Rubio pledges to help in meeting with Palm Beach County leaders

Sen. Marco Rubio met in West Palm Beach today with local leaders to discuss “the devastation caused by opioid addiction in our communities.’’

The private meeting, held in State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office with members of the Palm Beach County’s heroin and sober homes task forces, covered the rise in opioid deaths, addiction treatment needs and sober home issues.

Sen. Marco Rubio (to the right of the American flag) with Palm Beach County leaders at the State Attorney’s office in West Palm Beach today. (Photo courtesy Sen. Marco Rubio)

“It’s important that we continue working together with state and local officials to identify and root out fraud and hold bad providers accountable, so that the people who seek help aren’t being taken advantage of,’’ Rubio said in a statement.

“And we must do more to stop the flow of fentanyl and carfentanil across our borders, which is what the bipartisan legislation I’ve introduced with my colleagues in the Senate would address.’’

Attendees included Palm Beach County Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath; Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department; Palm Beach County commissioner Melissa McKinlay; Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Houston Park; and West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio.

“This epidemic requires all hands on deck and I appreciate Senator Rubio’s commitment to partner with our Task Force and local leaders on this effort,’’ Aronberg said in a statement.

Marco Rubio (AP Photo)

Rubio is co-sponsoring federal grants, through the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act, to help local governments and certain nonprofits in Florida intervene with people suffering from substance abuse. The grant deadline is April 25.

McKinlay, who has helped lead the fight for local help with the crisis, said Rubio told attendees he would try to get federal money for pilot programs to ease the opioid crisis.

He also said he would talk to the Department of Justice about more help for local communities seeking to enact local laws aimed at protecting neighborhoods from rogue sober homes.

“I was very inspired about how educated he was on the issues,’’ McKinlay said.

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