Lawmakers poised to raise penalties for drug dealers

With the heroin epidemic gripping the Hudson Valley, state lawmakers are now set to raise the stakes against criminals who deal the deadly drug.

Legislation passed by the state Senate allows prosecutors to charge heroin and opiate dealers with homicide if a user dies of an overdose.

The package of bills is sponsored by state Sen. Terrence Murphy of Yorktown, who co-chairs the Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

The legislation also increases treatment options for users and reduces the threshold for charging dealers with trafficking.

It's up to the state Assembly to pass some of the major components of the bill package, which has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

State lawmakers have about a week before the end of this legislative session.

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