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Fatal heroin overdoses spark calls for tougher penalties

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Calls for harsher penalties for heroin dealers involved in fatal overdoses are sparking debate but getting little support in the Legislature.

A proposal by Republican Rep. Timothy Wesco of Osceola would have made manufacturing, financing or delivering any amount of heroin that causes the death of a user a Level 3 felony.

St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter tells the South Bend Tribune the tougher penalties would send a message to dealers that if someone dies, they’ll pay a bigger price.

The bill didn’t get a House committee hearing. Some law enforcement officials question whether it’s needed.

The discussion comes as many Indiana counties are battling a rising death toll linked to heroin and related opiate painkillers.