Home>Articles>Bill To Increase Penalties for Fentanyl-Related Crime Rejected for Hearing by Public Safety Committee

Assemblyman Jim Patterson. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill To Increase Penalties for Fentanyl-Related Crime Rejected for Hearing by Public Safety Committee

‘We were prepared to make this case to those on the public safety committee, but they chose not to hear’

By Evan Symon, March 27, 2023 12:29 pm

A bill that would have increased penalties for those dealing fentanyl was rejected for hearing by the Assembly Public Safety Committee during the weekend, putting the future of a major drug enforcement initiative in jeopardy.

The bill in question, Assembly Bill 1058, authored by Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), would have significantly increased penalties for fentanyl dealers with more than 28.35 grams, or one ounce, of the substance on them. Specifically, AB 1058 would have moved up possession with the purpose of sale penalties from 2-4 years in jail to 4-6 years in jail, transportation and sales  from 3-5 years in jail to 6-9 years, and transportation across non-contiguous county lines from 3-9 years in jail to 7-13 years in jail.

Assemblyman Patterson wrote the bill earlier this year not only to help curb the rise of fentanyl use and the high number of fentanyl-related deaths in California, but to also not make the same punishment for addicts as the law does for dealers.

“Those who are profiting by the addiction and ignoring the death of our kids have essentially been given a green light. Go ahead. Do it,” said the Assemblyman. “You have a couple 1000 pills. The most we can do is have you on a misdemeanor.”

“Under our existing laws, addicted victims are treated the same as their dealers who were carrying over a thousand pills when they were detained. We wanted to make sure that it captured the dealers. But didn’t turn some kids, some addicts struggling for four or five or six pills into felons.”

Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr.
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

AB 1058 was expected to be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee during the weekend, with Assemblyman Patterson bringing many victims and families of victims to help give support for the new bill. However, Assemblyman and Committee Chair Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) rejected to hear the bill, indefinitely postponing it.

In a cryptic statement released during the weekend on why the bill wasn’t heard in committee, Jones-Sawyer said, “The fentanyl issue requires comprehensive input from a variety of experts and stakeholders in order to establish a united approach to solving the matter. Often there are duplicative efforts put forth, or broad scoped legislation offering temporary solutions, or providing no rational solutions at all.”

“Moving forward, I intend to work on this issue by bringing those who understand the causation, prevention, and treatment components together with policy makers to ensure we have a tactical solution in hand.”

The decision outraged Paterson as well as other bill supporters, such as law enforcement officials, with many stressing the importance of increased punishments as just one of many needed tools to combat fentanyl in California.

“We were prepared to make this case to those on the public safety committee, but they chose not to hear,” Patterson added following the decision. “We are demanding something straightforward, direct and clear. The state of California must do its part.”

AB 1058 expected to be refiled

“My bill would have lowered the fentanyl weight significantly so the charge would be a felony that sends the dealer to prison for a very long time,” tweeted Patterson. “But the so-called Assembly “Public Safety” Committee REFUSED to hear the bill. In doing so, they clearly sided with the drug dealers. They stripped me of my duly elected privilege to have my bills heard and voted on by the entire Assembly. I will use every opportunity to call them out for this dictatorial, undemocratic use of their power advantage in Sacramento, and refile this bill again for a hearing.”

Others in the Capitol noted on Monday that many had been disappointed with the bill not being chosen to be heard last week, and that the bill has a good shot of being heard later this year.

“Longer sentences aren’t exactly the most popular thing right now, as we’ve been seeing more progressive policies at the city level over crimes and more prisoners being granted parole at the state level,” explained “Dana,” a Capitol staffer to the Globe on Monday. “But when it comes to fentanyl and how it has been scourging the country, people want harsher penalties. Even more liberal democrats have agreed to that. And a lot of people know that, with that kind of support, it would replace more lenient current policies. So, if the bill comes up again and is heard, it will likely move up. And if they keep denying it, it is only going to cause more and more people to start demanding more penalties. The general feeling is that it should at least be heard and properly voted on.”

AB 1058 is expected to be refiled soon.

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4 thoughts on “Bill To Increase Penalties for Fentanyl-Related Crime Rejected for Hearing by Public Safety Committee

  1. Looks like the Assembly’s so-called Public Safety Committee, under chairman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Sr., is starting to feel the pressure, too, from the increases in violent crime, deadly drugs, etc., that have devastated our state in recent years. Seems to me Asm Jones-Sawyer has consistently and irrationally been on the side of criminals, even violent criminals, not to mention drug-dealers (now distributing the very deadly Fentanyl, as well as God only knows what else; e.g. “tranq,” which zombifies and rots the skin of users). He offers no reasonable explanation for his position, and sensible law enforcement bills that have to go through his committee always seem to uncannily fail. Go figure that one out, when his constituents are often among the worst victims of these criminal activities.

  2. Not surprised that a corrupt Democrat like Assemblyman and Committee Chair Reginald Jones-Sawyer rejected to hear the bill and postponed it indefinitely. Lawless Democrats always side with their criminal cronies? Maybe he and other Democrats are benefiting financially from the fentanyl and other illegal drugs crossing the border along with human trafficking? Maybe payoffs from the cartels?

    1. That would certainly explain it, Mario, because otherwise it makes NO SENSE at all. Jones-Sawyer likes to silence anyone who even dares to ask a question about his and other Dem/Marxist inconsistencies; e.g., on “gun violence.” That is, what the heck explains a thumbs-up on taking away guns from the law abiding who wish to protect themselves from rising violent crime but a thumbs-down on minimum mandatory sentencing for criminals who use guns during the commission of a violent crime?

  3. “…penalties for fentanyl dealers with more than 28.35 grams…” What exactly would have been the point of making penalties kick in only for those possessing 280,000 doses at the same time?

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