I’m here to share news about the HOPE Agenda. That is Heroin, Opioid, Prevention and Education Agenda.

I’m reaching out to share an update on this critical initiative that I will be aggressively working on with a few of my colleagues. More importantly, I’m asking for your help and input. Drug addiction, drug overdoses and related challenges have reached epic proportions in Wisconsin and the nation.

These issues are as sensitive and personal, as they are complex. These challenges do not discriminate based on gender, age, race or socioeconomic status.

Shannon Zimmerman
Shannon Zimmerman

Consider the impact of a global pandemic and things have only gotten worse. There may be a thousand reasons that someone may succumb to drugs. And for those that have, they need hope, they cannot and should not wear the scarlet letter for all of time. It is not just in their interest that they recover and return to productive society, but it is in all of ours.

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Most know of or know first hand what drug addiction can do. If you or your family have faced this, you are not alone. I too know first hand. I’ve witnessed the devastating impacts and gut wrenching pain caused from drugs. Families destroyed and lives senselessly lost. The hurt, frustration and hopelessness can be overwhelming. It must stop.

A few years ago, my former colleague recently retired from the Legislature Rep John Nygren took his own very personal story and became the change that he wanted to see. Leading with a select group of others in the Wisconsin Legislature a package of bills that brought hope. Tremendous progress was made. Some exceptional, bipartisan bills were passed, all benefiting those impacted by drug addiction.

I intend to pick up where Rep. Nygren left off. I do not want one more family to have to endure the pain and devastation of addiction.

A long time ago, I learned in private sector business that the toughest problems can be solved from the most unsuspecting of places. Generally, innovation and great ideas come from those facing a problem.

For all those that have experiences and perspectives with addiction, I want your ideas. I’m actively reaching out to local law enforcement, our schools, health care providers, families and anyone that may have something to add.

We intend to create bills that fall within the following categories: prevention, harm reduction, treatment and stabilization. We will explore all measures to prevent addiction and we will also work tirelessly to see those that have fallen to stand again as a working, productive member of our great state.