Neil Fitzgerald | Fentanyl Victims’ Families Hearing Crickets from Sacramento

Neil Fitzgerald
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Last month, I referenced the challenges California has with the growing fentanyl crisis and how bills designed to tackle the issue were stuck in committee. The below is a quote from Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, that was in The Signal, April 28.

“Addressing addiction and drug use is a complex problem, and I applaud all of my colleagues’ diligent work in finding ways to save lives, help Californians struggling with addiction, and keep our communities safe,” said the statement from Schiavo, who did not participate in the committee votes because she is not on that committee. “In setting a big table to bring impacted families, community organizations and policymakers together, I’m confident we can build holistic solutions that help us save lives, care for one another, and build a future free from the impacts opioids have had on our communities.”   

I am quoting this in full so that no one can say the assemblywoman has been misquoted. This is the quote, in full given to The Signal in a prepared statement.

I would ask the reader to stop, pause and reflect on this quote. 

Is setting a big table the answer? Is a holistic solution the answer? Or is this a quote Vice President Kamala Harris would be proud of?

Faced with inaction by the Democrats in Sacramento, families themselves, supported by Republicans, are now having to take their campaign to tighten drug laws directly to voters. 

Think on that a minute. Families of victims killed by fentanyl poisoning feel that they have no support from state legislative committees and have had to launch their own effort this week to ensure other families do not have their pain, do not have their despair, do not lose hope as they see a loved one fall victim to this horrific addiction.

Is this right? Is this what politics in California has come to? Where is the seat at the big table for the victims’ families when they feel they have no hope and no option but to go directly to the people?

Thankfully, leaders such as Assemblywoman Diane Dixon, R-Newport Beach, are aiding the families with a campaign for a proposed law that would make it easier to charge repeat dealers with homicide to be on the ballot to voters. 

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 12 was introduced on Monday through the constitutional amendment process and would have to get approved by a two-thirds vote in the Assembly and the Senate.

The challenge for California Democrats, who have the majority, is, are they going to let the people of California decide the fate of this law? (It’s known as “Alexandra’s Law,” named after a 20-year-old student who died two days before Christmas 2019 in her family home of fentanyl poisoning. Imagine the heartbreak of Alexandra’s parents seeing their child succumb to such a tragedy.) 

Or, are they going to reject the law in committee? Again.

Just to be clear, Alexandra’s Law has been rejected at least four times in three years by the Democrat-led public safety committees in the Assembly and Senate.

The proposed law would make courts warn defendants convicted of dealing fentanyl-laced drugs that they could be charged with murder if they do it again and someone dies. This warning could be used to show dealers of the deadly consequences of dealing drugs that have been tainted with fentanyl. 

Often, victims do not know the drugs they are buying or using have been boosted by this poison.

Alexandra’s Law is modelled after how defendants convicted of drink driving are dealt with, that if they do it again and someone dies, they could be charged with homicide. 

If we can do it for drunk drivers, surely, we can do it for drug dealers? 

Fentanyl is one hundred times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. It requires a strong response to stop the tens of thousands of deaths this opioid causes.

So, the question is, will this law get out of the Public Safety Committee in Sacramento or not, and how much more do families of victims have to beg before real action is taken? If not, Republicans must continue to introduce common-sense bills to tackle the issue and support victims’ families.

If Democrats continue to stop bills like Assembly Bill 367 (sentencing enhancements for those who seriously injure or kill through fentanyl poisoning), AB 955 (increase penalties for dealers who sell fentanyl over social media) and AB 1058 (increase penalties for those possessing a large amount of fentanyl), then the least they can do is let the people decide.

Neil Fitzgerald is an international nonprofit leader having served in the U.S., U.K. and globally for various nonprofit and charity boards. He served as a conservative council member in the U.K. and as a campaign manager. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans. 

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