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Senate Public Safety Committee Passes Alvarado-Gil’s Fentanyl Bill

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Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (SD-4) took a significant step toward disrupting organized crime in the illicit fentanyl trade, enhancing penalties concerning fentanyl.

Alvarado-Gil was Friday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

On a 5 to 0 vote, the Senate Public Safety Committee passed SB 226, making it a felony to possess fentanyl while carrying a loaded, operable firearm. Until now, only methamphetamine, crack, cocaine, heroin, and PCP were explicitly listed under the law banning simultaneous possession of a loaded gun and drugs. SB 226 would correct this oversight by recognizing that fentanyl, over 50 times more potent than heroin, should be included on this list.

According to Alvarado-Gil’s Press Release, nearly 3,000 people died of gun violence in California in 2019, averaging approximately eight people per day, both in the form of suicides and homicides. The post-pandemic mental health crisis, drug use, and easy access to functioning firearms contribute to these anguishing statistics. It profoundly wounds families and scares first responders who bravely attempt rescues, notify families, and tend to these emergencies first-hand.

Lethal in tiny doses, fentanyl has been pouring into California via organized criminal networks such as drug cartels. Made to mimic the look of pharmaceutical-grade opioids, criminals put the pills together with little to no quality control. Recently, organized crime has even introduced so-called “rainbow fentanyl” into the stream of commerce, meant to attract children to its candy-like appearance, and often smuggling the drug inside stuffed animals, children’s car seats, and other dangerous means attractive to children.

Initially, SB 226 was set to be heard by the Senate Public Safety on March 28th but was pulled due to lack of support, “Not including fentanyl in the original list of banned substances while simultaneously possessing a loaded firearm is an egregious omission that SB 226 will rectify. We dug in and worked the bill because we must do everything possible to get fentanyl off our streets. This issue must be at the top of our priority list as elected officials,” stated Alvarado-Gil.

Regarding SB 226, Stanislaus County District Attorney Jeff Laugero remarked, “This is exactly the type of common-sense legislative action needed to help address two epidemics currently impacting communities throughout the state; gun violence and fentanyl. I support SB 226 and Senator Alvarado-Gil’s efforts to counter this public health crisis.”

“Fentanyl kills,” said Amador County District Attorney Todd Riebe. “It is killing more Americans aged 18-45 than car accidents, gun violence, and suicides. It is killing our children in record numbers. Those who peddle this death while simultaneously possessing operable, loaded firearms represent a serious public safety risk that SB 226 seeks to rectify by holding them accountable.”

Senator Alvarado-Gil represents the 4th Senate District, including the counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.