Special Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing Over Fentanyl Bills Announced For Next Thursday
Special hearing announced due to public, law enforcement calls for more to be done about fentanyl crisis
By Evan Symon, April 20, 2023 5:32 pm
A special Assembly hearing of the Assembly Public Safety Committee to discuss all six bills related to the fentanyl crisis was announced on Thursday following weeks of public discontent over the legislature’s inaction over the growing crisis.
Currently, the Assembly has six bills that aim to combat both the fentanyl crisis and the fentanyl overdose crisis currently gripping California. They are:
- AB 33 – Authored by Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains (D-Delano), this bill would establish the Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Task Force, a statewide task force that would develop recommendations on medical policy and treatment.
- AB 367 – Authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), AB 367 would raise the penalties against dealers who sell fentanyl that results in great bodily injury to someone.
- AB 474 – Authored by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), this bill would have the State Threat Assessment Center (STAC) prioritize state efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking
- AB 675 – Authored by Assemblywoman Esmerelda Soria (D-Visalia), AB 675 would clarify that posseting both fentanyl or heroin along with a firearm would be considered a felony.
- AB 955 – Authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), this bill would add more penalties for dealers who sell fentanyl through social media sites.
- AB 1058 – Authored by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, AB 1058 would increase penalties for those dealing and in possession of a large quantity of fentanyl.
While the legislature has passed bills going after fentanyl before, the rejection of AB 1058 from the Public Safety Committee last month, a growing number of cities passing their own laws on fentanyl, and a proposed ballot measure that would essentially override the legislature and create stricter penalties anyway led to many public safety official and citizens to demand that the Assembly and Senate work on things now to combat the crisis.
With public pressure mounting, especially against the Public Safety Committee for shutting down fentanyl bills this year, the Committee announced on Thursday that a special hearing will be taking place to solely hear these bills. The announcement on Thursday led many public safety officials to praise the action, with many hoping that all currently proposed bills will move on to an Assembly vote later this year.
“We were very grateful to hear this morning that the Assembly Public Safety Committee is reversing course and will be holding a special hearing next week to discuss six bills critical to impacting the fentanyl crisis,” said California Police Chiefs Association Vice President Chief Tracy Avelar on Thursday in a statement. “It is time for the Public Safety Committee to act aggressively on this issue. The data is clear and the heartbreaking stories flooding in from all over California back up the horrific statistics.
“We cannot continue to stand idly by as fentanyl floods our streets and invades our homes. Californians are dying and we need to do as much as we can to combat this crisis and save lives.”
Those inside the Capitol noted on Thursday that public pressure did indeed lead to the special hearing.
“So many people have been affected by fentanyl in this state,” said “Dana,” a Capitol staffer told the Globe Thursday. “There has been a lot of letters and e-mails and messages coming in asking for them to do something. Patterson’s bill being torn down in Committee last month really sent a lot of sparks up. You wouldn’t believe how many tweets there were about it. Many had stories like ‘My loved one died of fentanyl. They need to punish these people more. How dare they not do anything about it!'”
“Also, certain members of the Assembly and Senate get mad when they stop legislation on something, only for it to become a ballot measure and the people pass it with flying colors. Remember, Californian’s often vote against what the Assembly pushes for. It can be affirmative action or on bills themselves that they passed, like part of AB 5 with rideshare drivers. They really don’t want that to happen again with fentanyl.”
The hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee is due to occur next week.