SACRAMENTO, CA (KMJ) – On Thursday morning, Assembly Democrats held a special hearing of the Assembly Public Safety Committee to hear fentanyl bills that they refused to hear previously.
Hundreds of Californians are dying every month by counterfeit drugs laced with the deadly drug.
There were seven bipartisan bills read that would have imposed consequences on fentanyl traffickers. The Committee advanced four bills, to create a task force to study the issue and increase coordination between different levels of law enforcement.
Valley Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s office says the Democrats “sided with criminals and against innocent families by rejecting multiple bills to hold dealers accountable.”
Assemblyman Patterson, the author of AB 1058, said “They aren’t interested in justice and as a result we will continue to have injustice for the victims of fentanyl poisoning. Today the Public Safety Committee welcomed drug dealers with open arms. We should be welcoming them into closed jail cells.”
Assemblyman Patterson said the committee came back with revisions to his bill, which he did not agree with – including doing away with prison time, and waiving fines. Patterson said that under the committee’s proposed amendments if a drug dealer was fined and could not pay the $50,000 fine, it would be waived.
The assemblyman said the changes were better for the dealers than the actual victims.
Patterson said he refused the Public Safety Committee’s amendments to his proposed bill, which effectively killed AB 1058 in the special hearing.
Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher from Yuba City said, “Despite all the talk, the extremist legislators who opposed these bills guaranteed that innocent Californians will continue to die, victims of drug dealers profiting off poisoning our communities.”
Gallagher continued, “These bills were not criminalizing addiction, returning to the “war on drugs,” or any other lie told by the pro-fentanyl lobbyists. They were reasonable, bipartisan proposals to save lives.”
The Assembly Public Safety Committee killed the following bills:
AB 367 (Brian Maienschein) – add a sentencing enhancement for fentanyl dealers who kill or seriously injure people they sell the drug to.
AB 1058 (Jim Patterson) – Increase penalties for those possessing large quantities of fentanyl.
Patterson’s office says the committee “punted” on the following bills, making it unlikely they will make a difference in the fentanyl epidemic:
AB 675 (Esmeralda Soria) – prohibit carrying a gun while in possession of fentanyl, bill was amended to make violations more difficult to prove.
AB 955 (Cottie Petrie-Norris) – increase penalties for fentanyl dealers who sell on social media, bill was placed on interim study.
The bills advancing out of the committee were:
AB 33 (Jasmeet Bains) – to establish a Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force.
AB 474 (Freddie Rodriguez) – prioritize cooperation between state and local law enforcement to disrupt fentanyl trafficking organizations.
AB 701 (Villapudua) – enhance penalties for selling large quantities of specified controlled substances.