Hill County to join global opioid settlement

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

December 1, 2021

The Hill County Commissioners Court voted to participate in an opioid settlement agreement with other cities and counties and named nominees to a sexual assault response team in a regular session Tuesday, November 23.

A representative from the Texas Office of the Attorney General spoke to commissioners earlier last month after Texas and other states reached final agreements to resolve legal claims against four companies related to the opioid crisis.

One agreement is with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The other involves major pharmaceutical distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

The two agreements provide for $26 billion in payments over 18 years, and Texas’ combined share of that money is almost $1.5 billion, including $1.17 billion from the distributors and $268 million from Johnson & Johnson.

The more Texas cities and counties that choose to sign on and participate, the more money all entities in the state will receive in the settlement.

The funding can be used to support any of a wide variety of strategies to fight the opioid crisis, such as programs that assist law enforcement and courts.

Commissioners also appointed members to a regional adult Sexual Assault Response Team.

A bill passed during the recent legislative session requires every county in Texas to establish a Sexual Assault Response Team and a protocol for how to handle sexual assaults and how to help victims.

Smaller counties with a population of 250,000 or less are permitted to join with other nearby counties in creating a multi-county team.

The Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG) will oversee the team for its six-county area, including Hill County. The law mandates that the team include the local district attorney’s office, the sheriff and the police chief of the largest law enforcement agency in the county.

District Attorney Mark Pratt, Sheriff Rodney Watson and Hillsboro Police Chief Tony Cain were all appointed to the team to represent Hill County.

The court also accepted a bid from JR Contracting Services for the construction of a shed with holding pens and loading/unloading areas for estray livestock. The company was the lowest of two bidders with a proposal of $72,625.

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