Three fentanyl-related bills supported by the League of California Cities passed through a special hearing of the State Assembly Public Safety Committee late last week, including AB 474 (Rodriguez). The bill prioritizes cooperation between state and local law enforcement to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.
The hearing was held in response to heavy pressure from Cal Cities and other groups that are growing increasingly frustrated with the alarming number of fentanyl-related deaths in communities across California. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about fifty times more potent than heroin. It is often disguised as other drugs and then sold to users who are unaware that fentanyl is a key ingredient.
Cal Cities was the lead testifier on AB 474. Two other Cal Cities-supported bills also advanced. AB 33 (Bains) would increase fines for dealers by establishing a task force to address fentanyl addiction and overdoses; AB 701 (Villapudua) would put fentanyl in the same category of controlled substances as heroin and cocaine.
Cal Cities still supports two measures that did not advance: One would increase penalties for those who sell fentanyl over social media, and another would increase sentences for those who kill or injure through fentanyl poisoning. Both bills are being held for study and will not advance further this year.
Several Assembly committees will hold a joint informational hearing later this month to further discuss the fentanyl crisis and possible legislative solutions. Cal Cities will be at the hearing to share the experiences of communities most impacted by fentanyl-related deaths.
Cal Cities is advocating for additional resources for appropriate prevention and intervention efforts, educational awareness campaigns, and increased access to life-saving overdose treatment aids — such as naloxone — to address the fentanyl crisis.