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Senate Bill 212 is a simple bill at face value. It replaces the terms "Department of Corrections and Human Resources" and "board of probation and parole" with "Department of Corrections" and "Division of Probation and Parole" in state legal code.

But when the Missouri Senate gave the bill initial approval Wednesday, it included a lot more than just the boiler-plate bill it was when it originally was proposed in the Senate Chamber.

One of the most significant amendments attached to the bill would require anyone incarcerated in jails or prisons in Missouri be assessed for substance abuse disorders.

The amendment makes it easier for incarcerated people struggling with substance abuse to access help and services. The amended version of the bill said the Department of Corrections has to make medication-assisted treatment available to inmates, with no limitations on the type of medication or treatment being prescribed.

Some of the medications included in the bill's list include those that help people suffering from opioid addiction, such as Naloxone, an emergency-treatment drug used to revive patients experiencing an opioid overdose.

The state would cover the cost of assessments and treatments. For senators in support of the amendment, the cost to the state is worth the benefits of the legislation passing.

"From my perspective, that's a small price to pay to get this done," Sen. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, said.

The bill also requires that people entered into drug courts or other diversion programs undergo assessment for substance abuse disorders.

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers.

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