Last month, Gov. Bill Walker declared Alaska’s opioid epidemic a disaster. Now, a member of the Alaska House is proposing a tax on prescription drugs to help remedy the issue.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ House Bill 196 raises revenue directed toward treatment and rehabilitation programs for opioid abuse. At $.01 per morphine milligram, Kreiss-Tomkins says the goal isn’t to completely shift costs onto consumers.

“It shouldn’t sort of dramatically change the cost landscape in any way, but it will generate a modest sum of revenue,” said the Sitka Democrat. “Going at least start to help pay for some of the severe costs of opioid addiction in our communities.”

The Alaska Department of Revenue estimates the bill would raise $4 million to $5 million a year, though Kreiss-Tomkins said he believes that may be an overstatement, citing data from similar tax programs in Kentucky and California.

“If you look at their revenue data, it would suggest that actually the final number in Alaska would be dramatically less,” Kreiss-Tomkins said, adding that the state would probably collect north of $1 million.

HB 196 has been referred to the House Health and Social Services and Finance Committees.

 KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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