City Council considers regulation of addiction treatment facilities in Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – It is an idea that was first introduced by Mayor Sean Dunne in April of 2022. The mayor is hoping to create a standard of care for addiction treatment facilities that operate in the city of Portsmouth. In July, legislation that would set mandatory care requirements for these facilities appeared on City Council’s agenda for the first time.

“As a city, we have to figure out what we’re going to do for regulation,” Dunne said.

Dunne’s legislation establishes a registration program with annual charges applied to addiction treatment facilities. That registration comes with requirements on how to operate, and the city would enforce those requirements. The mayor believes this could improve success rates and lead people to safe rehabilitation.

Jay Hash is the CEO of Hopesource in Portsmouth. He is not against having a standard of care but believes the city is overstepping its legislative authority with this legislation.

“We are held to a standard of care by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, so we’re not opposed to that. But for city government to come and say, well that is not enough, it is not in response to any substantiated complaints or problems,” Hash said.

At a City Council meeting in July, Hash responded to the proposed legislation with a letter to councilmembers. In the letter, Hash says that the legislation is unconstitutional and exceeds the city’s legislative authority. If the legislation passes as written, he will consider legal action against the city.

“And that is the last thing we want to do,” Hash said. “But this legislation is unfair, it’s harmful, it’s unconstitutional, it’s discriminatory and it duplicates what other people, such as the state of Ohio, are here to oversee.”

At that same City Council meeting, Dunne and other council members chose to table the legislation in order to explore different options of adjusting the language.

“I think what we want to balance is, on one hand, making sure people have the best treatment possible and the best chance of success, but also ensuring people in Portsmouth that facilities are being regulated,” Dunne said. “If there is an extra burden on our police and fire and first responders, then that is putting a financial stress on our city. It’s something that we’ll balance as we move forward.”

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