FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- State lawmakers and grieving families gathered in Sacramento Tuesday morning, demanding action on the state's fentanyl crisis.
Tuesday marks one of the last days the Assembly Public Safety Committee will meet before any pending fentanyl bills will be stalled in the legislative process.
Family members of people who lost their lives to fentanyl shared their personal experiences, calling on lawmakers to pass four bills addressing the crisis.
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The legislation would increase penalties for drug sales, reduce the supply of opioids coming into the US and create a task force to crack down on use and distribution.
The families and lawmakers offered remarks in front of a dump truck that holds up to 28,000 pounds.
That's roughly the same weight of fentanyl law enforcement officers seized throughout California last year.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, provided Action News with the following statement in response:
"Numerous bill proposals submitted to my committee related to Fentanyl were all rejected by the committee due to deficiencies in the policies and the failure to address key components of the problem. To save the bills and ensure quicker action to address fentanyl, I am seeking a public hearing on that includes input and direction from public health officials, experts in prevention and treatment, and law enforcement. My Republican colleagues continue to revive conservative policies that include filling up prisons and failed "lock them up and throw away the key" policies of the past.
Only dealing with the criminality portion of the drug problem has never worked and does not end the crisis. The war on drugs, three-strikes laws, and mandatory minimums were only successful at punishing the poor, filling prisons with people of color, and dramatically altering the lives of countless families across the nation. We can all agree that this crisis has and continues to put too many lives at stake.
I want a comprehensive plan of action that directly confronts and resolves this health crisis holistically. I do not accept a piece-meal policy approach that only focuses on punishment - too many lives are at-risk. A fentanyl hearing, in partnership with Health Committee allows for all bill authors, victims of the fentanyl crisis, and key stakeholders to all discuss solutions collectively, rather than in silos. It also affords us the opportunity to invite commentary from the Attorney General's and Governor's offices as two state entities with resources dedicated to solving this crisis.
These bills will continue to go through the legislative process and, if accomplished through collaboration with Progressives, Republicans, and Moderates, there is no reason this fentanyl package can't take effect in January. The true measure of care for Californians is ensuring we as legislators are thorough in our work, transparent in our actions, and committed to implementation in order to finally get this right after decades of failed drug policy."