Undeterred by committee rejection, Rocklin Assembly member introduces 2 more bills to battle fentanyl crisis

Even though a bill introduced in December by Assemblymember Joe Patterson (R - Rocklin) to address the fentanyl crisis failed to advance out of the California Assembly Public Safety committee yesterday, the first-term legislator introduced two new bills to address the problem. 

The bill Patterson introduced in December, Assembly Bill 18, sought to hold dealers to account. While it failed to advance, Patterson introduced Assembly Bills 889 and 890 after the committee agreed to reconsider the legislation (see Patterson's presentation in the video posted below). 

As explained by Patterson during the hearing, convicted distributors or manufacturers will be advised that if people die because of their actions, they can be charged with murder or manslaughter.  

"Let me be clear, the goal of AB 18 is not to add punishment to the opioid-dependent person but rather to ensure that drug dealers and traffickers are held accountable," Patterson said during the committee hearing. "I want California to join the rest of the nation in holding drug dealers and traffickers accountable for their actions." 

During public testimony, among those speaking against the legislation was Glenn Backes of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Backes suggested the solution to the fentanyl crisis should be addressed in other committees.

"The solutions for the overdose crisis are in the health committee and in the health budget," Backes said. "Further criminalization will not save lives." 

Backes also noted that the bill does not apply exclusively to fentanyl but that a host of other narcotics are covered. 

Following the hearing, Patterson introduced AB 889 and 890. AB 889 would require public schools to inform parents or guardians annually of the dangers associated with using synthetic drugs at the beginning of each regular school term's first semester or quarter. 

"By educating parents and our youth on the dangers of fentanyl and other opioids, we can help prevent fentanyl poisonings and save lives," Patterson said.

AB 890 would require a defendant granted probation for a violation of laws involving fentanyl to complete a fentanyl and synthetic opiate rehabilitation and education program. 

"The Public Safety Committee showed interest today in hearing educational approaches to addressing the fentanyl epidemic - I look forward to working with my colleagues to revisit AB 18 and move forward AB 889 and AB 890," Patterson said. 

The committee vote was 5 - 2, with one not voting, and it was along party lines. 

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