California Republicans will force a vote Tuesday on a bill that would warn convicted fentanyl traffickers that they could face homicide charges in the future if they continue selling.
Democrats have so far stalled the proposal in the state Legislature, refusing to advance it out of the committee stage.
The backstory: Four years ago Southern California woman Alexandra Capelouto, died of fentanyl poisoning at the age of 20, leading lawmakers to propose Senate Bill 44, which they called Alexandra’s Law.
- SB 44 would have required judges to issue a warning to fentanyl dealers that they could be subject to a homicide charge if they dealt drugs that resulted in someone’s death.
- In April the Senate Public Safety Committee blocked the bill from advancing, with Sen. Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley) concerned that the proposal would not limit overdose deaths.
The big picture: With SB 44 on the outs, Assemblymembers Juan Alanis (R–Modesto, Diane Dixon (R–Newport Beach) and Joe Patterson (R–Rocklin) introduced the proposal as Assembly Constitutional Amendment 12 in July.
- If the California Legislature supports ACA 12, Alexandra’s Law would then go before California voters for approval.
- Tuesday, Republicans will vote to withdraw Alexandra’s Law from the Assembly Rules Committee and take up a vote on the Assembly floor.
What’s in it: ACA 12 would require judges to issue the following warning to convicted fentanyl dealers:
- “You are hereby advised that all illicit drugs and counterfeit pills are dangerous to human life and become even deadlier when they are, sometimes unknowingly, mixed with substances such as fentanyl and analogs of fentanyl. People can and have died from these substances, even in very small doses. It is extremely dangerous and deadly to human life to sell or administer drugs, in any form, when not lawfully authorized to do so. If you do so in the future and a person dies as a result of that action, and you knew or should have known that the substance you provided contained fentanyl or a fentanyl analog, you may be charged with homicide, up to and including the crime of murder, within the meaning of Section 187 of the Penal Code. In addition, this conviction will be considered by a judge or jury as to whether you knew or should have known that the substance you provided to the decedent contained fentanyl or a fentanyl analog.”
What they’re saying: Capelouto’s father Matt Capelouto said in a statement that it is time for lawmakers to stop standing by as fentanyl traffickers kill hundreds of Californians every month.
- “We know this bill will save lives by dissuading fentanyl dealers from continuing to sell poison,” Capelouto said. “The legislature has an obligation to act.”
- Dixon added, “The supermajority has slow-walked every effort to enforce real consequences on those causing the fentanyl crisis. Enough is enough. The time for study committees and delay tactics is over. It is time to finally do something to hold traffickers accountable.”