Grieving families, law enforcement, Republican legislators tell Public Safety Committee that inaction will cause even more deaths.
SACRAMENTO – Today, families of fentanyl overdose and poisoning victims, law enforcement officials, public safety advocates and lawmakers met at the State Capitol to demand action on California’s fentanyl crisis. Across the state, overdoses have only accelerated since 2021, as 500 Californians per month are losing their lives to fentanyl.
Still, the Assembly Public Safety Committee refuses to consider bills to address the fentanyl crisis for the remainder of the legislative session.
At the event, family members of Californians who died from fentanyl shared their stories of loss and the struggle to secure justice. Representatives of law enforcement highlighted the need to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and impose additional penalties to deter criminals from continuing to sell the drug.
“Thousands of Californians will be killed by fentanyl in the coming months because of the Public Safety Committee’s inaction,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City). “Capitol Democrats have prioritized criminals for too long. It’s time to protect Californians by holding fentanyl dealers accountable for the poison they’re pushing into our communities.”
“The stories we heard today were heartbreaking – fentanyl has devastated families and communities across our state,” said Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel). “From raising awareness, like my bill to teach students about the dangers of fentanyl, which is being held by the Education Committee, to holding dealers accountable, the Legislature should do everything in its power to fight the fentanyl epidemic and save lives.”
“Every week, more than a hundred Californians lose their lives to fentanyl poisoning. Today’s press conference has made it clear the Legislature isn't doing enough to fight this crisis,” said Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona). “As legislators we have duty to protect the public’s safety. By denying fentanyl legislation a hearing, we are sending a message that the lives of our children aren’t an urgent priority to this legislature. Kids are being poisoned as we speak; now is the time act to protect Californians and put those who profit off this epidemic behind bars.”
In recent months, the Assembly Public Safety Committee killed a number of common-sense bills to fight the fentanyl epidemic, including AB 18, to warn dealers they could be convicted of murder if someone dies from drugs they sold, and AB 701, to impose fines on fentanyl dealers for the damage they inflict on our communities.
In March, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee announced it would stop considering bills relating to fentanyl for the remainder of the legislative session, including AB 1508, which would recognize the extremely potent nature of fentanyl and increase penalties for dealers, AB 33, to create a Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force, and AB 955, to increase penalties for selling fentanyl through social media.
The press conference featured a dump truck capable of holding 28,000 pounds, roughly the same weight of fentanyl that was seized in California last year, as well as small vials of inert materials representative of enough fentanyl to kill 1,000 people.