Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) released the following statement after the president announced today that he is directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency:
"The federal government's declaration of the opioid crisis as a ‘public health emergency' is a step in the right direction. This declaration will allow some federal funds to combat opioid abuse and ease some laws and regulations to address it.
"But make no mistake, more needs to be done to combat a crisis that has taken so many lives. Among the many actions that need to be taken include reducing the spread of fentanyl, where as few as 2 to 3 milligrams can kill a person.
"We must take stronger action at the federal and state levels to treat users on the demand side, and stopping illegal distributors on the supply side. That is why the state Senate’s rejection of my bill this year to address illegal fentanyl distribution was disappointing. The Legislature must recognize that existing penalties are not enough to deter illegal distribution. I will continue to work with my legislative colleagues on solutions that will help save lives.”
Senator Bates authored Senate Bill 176 this year that would have enhanced criminal penalties for the illegal distribution of fentanyl and carfentanil. The bill failed to advance in the Senate Public Safety Committee. She also authored SCR 68 that designated the month of September 2017 as “Opioid, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month.”