SALEM, Ore – Oregon Governor Kate Brown held a special ceremonial bill signing event in Salem on Tuesday to show her support for House Bill 2936, which expands the use of sober facilities across the state.
The measure passed the legislature unanimously during the 2015 legislative session and was spearheaded by State Representatives Duane Stark and Carl Wilson from Grants Pass.
“The consequences of untreated substance use disorders take a human and social toll on all Oregonians,” Governor Brown said, adding, “These services in a supportive setting will keep individuals out of jail and encourage them to receive the treatment and recovery services they need.”
“Many communities, especially those in rural Oregon, have limited options for dealing with severely intoxicated people, they either use costly jail beds or emergency rooms.” Representative Stark said. “Sobering centers offer law enforcement a cost effective and compassionate alternative.”
According to a statement from Rep. Stark’s office, a group of local volunteers formed the Grants Pass Sobering Center non-profit organization to build a facility in Josephine County. However, Representatives Stark and Wilson said they felt it would be difficult to establish the new facility without changing state law to enhance legal immunity and add more accountability measures – both goals accomplished with enactment of HB 2936.
“The Grants Pass Sobering Center group deserves a lot of credit for bringing this community based solution forward,” said State Representative Carl Wilson. “They have raised most of the money, and are doing all the leg work to make this project a reality.” Project coordinators hope to have the facility operating by January of 2016.
“It’s important to recognize sober facilities don’t offer treatment services, but they do have partnerships with addiction treatment programs and other agencies to make referrals for those people who want additional services,” explained Rick Jones, Chairman of the Grants Pass Sober Center Board.