Suzette Martinez Valladares | Senate Committee Drops Ball on Fentanyl

Suzette Martinez Valladares, Right Here, Right Now
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Gov. Gavin Newsom made news this week by signing yet another bill that will increase the price of gas and negatively impacts everyone’s cost of living. At the same time, members of his Democratic Party in the California State Senate Public Safety Committee rejected a bill that would have given formal warning to those convicted of selling or distributing fentanyl that if they dealt again and someone dies, they could face homicide charges. 

The Centers for Disease Control tells us that fentanyl is the leading cause of death among people ages 18-45, and law enforcement and our other first responders are seeing usage and overdoses at skyrocketing levels. 

Senate Bill 44, which, to be fair, did have Republican and Democratic authors, was a first step in turning up the heat on these cartels and dealers that are peddling death. However, every Democrat on the State Senate Public Safety Committee voted against it. 

Fentanyl is not just a threat to young adults, but to anyone who comes in contact with the substance. Further, it is manufactured to look like candy and young children are in danger. Just two weeks ago I had to have another conversation with my kindergarten-aged daughter to never accept or touch any candy from anyone, even from her classmates or playground friends. 

 The stakes have never been higher and we have never faced a deadly drug like this that was such a threat to those who may never even intentionally use the drug, and to people who come into physical contact with it trying to help someone. 

Unfortunately, the leadership of the California State Senate and those Democratic members of the Senate Public Safety Committee have demonstrated they don’t care about our kids, our first responders, and those individuals dying daily from fentanyl. They are more afraid of offending these cartels and hard-core drug dealers than saving lives. 

Locally, Sens. Scott Wilk and Henry Stern, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, were all co-authors of this legislation, and they deserve to be applauded for their leadership. Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo was noticeably absent from this effort to protect our children. 

Over the past several years we have seen state and local politicians like Gavin Newsom and George Gascón strip away penalties from those who are convicted of violent crimes and turn a blind eye to the victims. But this latest vote to reject Senate Bill 44 and tell these deadly fentanyl cartels that California is “open for business” takes this stupidity to the next level. 

As the director for the Devonshire Police Activities League youth programs, I talk to law enforcement officers every day, and I see how vulnerable these kids are to substances like fentanyl. It breaks my heart to see the threats these kids face. 

If a fentanyl dealer’s product leads to the death of anyone, you bet it should be charged as a homicide. If by warning just one of these fentanyl dealers that they face that risk of being charged with a homicide spares the life of even one 13-year-old who mistakenly comes into contact with fentanyl, then to me, it’s a no-brainer bill to pass. 

When I served the people of the Santa Clarita Valley in the Legislature, I made these public and child safety issues a priority, and I’m so thankful to those who are still serving and fighting for a safer California. This is one of the many reasons why what happens in the State Capitol is so important and merits our attention.

Suzette Martinez Valladares is Santa Clarita’s former assemblywoman, wife, girl mom, avid DIY’er and a monthly contributor to The Signal’s “Right, Here Right Now,” which appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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