Home » Bill to Hold Drug Dealers Accountable for Fentanyl Deaths Fails in Committee

Bill to Hold Drug Dealers Accountable for Fentanyl Deaths Fails in Committee

by CC News

Senate Bill 44, a bill to hold drug dealers accountable in fentanyl related deaths failed to pass the Senate Public Safety Committee which prompted a press conference by State Senator Tom Umberg (D-Orange County)

The bill, Alexandra’s Law, would require the court to advise a person who is convicted of, or who pleads guilty or no contest to selling illicit drugs with fentanyl, that, if they sell it again and it kills someone that they can be charged with murder.

The bill would require the court to read the advisory statement in a case in which the defendant exchanged a controlled substance containing fentanyl or its analogs for anything else of value, as specified. The bill would require the advisory statement to be included in a plea form, if used, and specified on the record.

The bill failed to advance after Senator Bogh voted in support while Senators Aisha Wahab, Steven Bradford, Nancy Skinner and Scott Wiener all abstaining.

SB 44 was given reconsideration and it can come back at a later date.

“That doesn’t mean the right is over, it just means that once again we have another challenge in front of us,” said Umberg who thanked those who have lost loved ones for their support. “My heart breaks for you. I am gratified that you are taking this pain and trying to change something. You are not going to bring your love ones back but trying to prevent others from suffering the same sort of tragedy you have suffered.”

Umberg said he was stunned by the public safety committee.

“At this point, I am somewhat stunned. I am very disappointed. But I am committed. I am committed to keep working on this issue until we make a difference,” stated Umberg.

Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh called the vote heartbreaking.

“I am heartbroken at the senate committees decision to not pass SB 44 today,” stated Bogh while thanking Umberg and those who supported the bill.

She also stated that in the Inland Empire, 80-90% of the opioid deaths are fentanyl related.

Note – California Seized Enough Fentanyl to Potentially Kill the Entire Population of North America, Twice

“This is not just a crisis, its thousands of individual tragedies. SB 44 advisement would have been one prong in the multi-faceted approach we must take in the fentanyl crisis. Makes no mistake that a policy like SB-44 would make a difference,” stated Bogh who looks forward to working with Umberg to make common sense reforms to address this epidemic.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) on December 5, 2022. It was also previously introduced under AB 2195 by then Senator Melissa Melendez which was killed by senate democrats in a 30-10 vote last August.

Rainbow Fentanyl

Photo by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)/

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins spoke in support of SB 44 and stated in January they had 78 overdose deaths.

She stated in the post-vote press conference that somebody would understand the deadliness of fentanyl and hopefully give a warning that deters behavior and give someone pause the next time they sell fentanyl so we can save lives.

“No parent should have to bury their own child and law enforcement and our overall government should never turn a blind eye to this type of crisis,” stated Jenkins. She said the committee provided some feedback and will continue working with Senator Umberg on this journey. “This is not over and we must remain steadfast and persistent. Justice may be delayed, but it doesn’t mean it will be denied.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria spoke in support of the bill. He stated the bill is a modest, yet necessary effort to help address the proliferation of illicit fentanyl in our communities and better hold predatory dealers accountable.

“I am ironclad committed to this issue and committed to giving you the justice you deserve,” said Gloria in a post-vote press conference. “You deserve to win, and we didn’t get there today but it doesn’t mean we can’t get there eventually. I will keep coming back until we get justice on this issue.”

He thanked the family of Alexander who have had to deal with this for many years while pointing out the bill could be named after any child which was the point—there are so many people who have experienced this.

“What I will say to the legislators who disappointed us today, when we come back, between that time, go visit your coroner, go visit the medical examiner in your county. Find out how long the backlog is to get an autopsy in your hometown and what you are going to find out, its never been longer because so many people are dying from these overdoses,” stated Gloria who stated there needed to be consequences for this type of behavior. “Accountability for reckless endangerment for peoples loved ones. We are a society of laws and laws are intended to be obeyed. What I feel right now is that is not necessarily happening… I am sorry we have fallen short.”

SB 44, which now has 41 bi-partisan co-authors, will save lives and hold drug dealers accountable for deaths by implementing a fentanyl admonishment upon a first drug conviction with the warning that a second offense, should it result in a death, can be charged with murder in California.

The fentanyl crisis in California and nationwide has reached epic proportions. Approximately 107,477 people died from drug overdoses overall in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in August 2022, with California accounting for approximately 20% of that statistic. All told, more people have now died of synthetic-opioid overdoses than the number of U.S. military personnel killed during the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

The biggest factor attributing to California’s fentanyl crisis is the undisclosed addition of fentanyl to other drugs. Most drug users believe they are purchasing something else (Percoset, Adderall, Xanax, Heroin) and don’t know they are purchasing fentanyl or drugs laced with fentanyl.

When asked why Umberg did not accept the amendment requests by the committee to move the bill forward, Umberg says he will bring the bill back but the amendments proposed create a complicated situation.

“The complicated situation is what would occur on the second offense when someone is dead, you want to demonstrate on a prior occasion that they have sold fentanyl, irrespective of what they said, now you know when you know when you are selling stuff it may have fentanyl, on a subsequent prosecution where the prosecution wants to introduce that evidence, the defense will say look this is unfair,” explained Umberg. “What this law would say that evidence would be admitted.”

Umberg stated whether there are other amendments or modifications he would work with the committee to bring something to help on this.

“This is one tool, there a many tools that are incredibly important,” stated Umberg.

“I am deeply disappointed but I am committed to continuing not just this effort, but all the efforts to create all the tools and all the resources to address the fentanyl epidemic. I am about finding solutions that I don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” stated Umberg who said he wanted something to hold those who sell fentanyl accountable, particularly if they kill someone and on the second conviction. “I will have an open mind to that.”

He called on the state to create as many tools as possible to battle fentanyl from education, treatment, prevention and holding those repeat sellers accountable.

Senate Bill 44

Matt Capelouto, the father of Alexandra, who the bill is named over, spoke during the press conference. His daughter purchased what she thought to be oxycodone on a social media platform, however, it was a fake and filled with five times the fatal amount of fentanyl. Her death was stated as an overdose, but her father calls it poisoning.

“I am appalled to be standing here once again expressing my disagreement with a public safety committee that refuses to do something, anything about the fentanyl epidemic that is ripping our communities apart,” said Capelouto. “I have been here twice before today in the way of a committee rejecting Alexanders Law. The first time I was stunned, the second time I was angry. This time we went back to work on it. We found great Senators in Tom Umberg and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh to author the bill. We got an astounding 41 co-authors and half the senate endorsed this measure. We made concessions on the bill, we bent, we adjusted we presented an SB 44 that should have cleared all the concerns this committee could have had with it.”

He called out the committee members in Senators Nancy Skinner, Scott Wiener and Steven Bradford once again stopped a bill that would save the lives of Californians.

“Their misguided reasoning for rejecting SB 44 isn’t based on the best interest of public safety, the very words this committee is named for, and now I stand before you all disgusted,” stated Capelouto. “Illicit fentanyl coming into our country and into our streets and homes is killing our friends, neighbors, family members at astronomical numbers.”

He explained that while the state is spending millions on education to inform the community, he questioned what are the state politicians of the public safety committee actually doing.

“What are they doing about the drug deals, the people responsible for knowing jeopardizing the lives of the people they trade dollars for death do. I’ll tell you, nothing!” stated Capelouto. “They quiver about words and phrases and worry about how fair or unfair it might be to drug dealers citing all kinds of make belief scenarios that might be unfair and while they do so, people keep dying.

Capelouto stated his goal was to do something to protect people from enduring the never ending pain of having someone they love killed by a drug dealer selling poison.

“They won’t do it, they wont even pass a bill that contains a warning. A freaking warning,” stated Capelouto. “To convicted drug dealers that if they continue to knowingly sell fentanyl and it results in someone’s death they will be held accountable. The drug dealers are given a chance to change direction to avoid serious accountability and save themselves from a life behind bars and if they don’t take that opportunity they pay a price. Opportunity is what members of the community had today. They didn’t take it.”

He called the committee actions today says its okay to sell drugs.

“Their actions today say its okay for drug dealers to sell poison pills that cause death with no repercussions,” said Capelouto. “This is a disgusting display of a legislative committee holding hostage 40 million people and their safety and security all in the name of political and ideological game play.”

He closed by saying the fight will not end today.

Senator Umberg closed by again stating “it’s a disappointment but it’s not the end.”

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WPR March 29, 2023 - 6:59 pm

Democrats are that dead set against increasing California prison population they are willing to let kids die?

MEV March 30, 2023 - 5:16 am

They like pocketing the money and not doing one thing for CA except running up a fat deficit. Gavin on oil price gouging LOL, 100 b,s. like Gavin. Sad these George Soros politicians wouldn’t sign the fentanyl bill. No one should be given a pass for giving someone a deadly dose of Fentanyl.

Jack Toffmore March 30, 2023 - 9:15 am

The big irony of course is that the same politicians who just abstain from a vote in order to torpedo this initiative to hold fentanyl dealers to account for the results of their illegal product are the same ones that advocate extraordinary Measures to penalize gun manufacturers and retailers when their legalproducts are misused by criminals.

Jaimoe March 31, 2023 - 8:03 am

Charge the San Jose police union director with murder…. 🤔 Then investigate Gavin and china Joe 😉🧐

Jaimoe March 31, 2023 - 8:04 am

Charge the San Jose police union director with murder?.. 🤔 Then investigate Gavin and china Joe 😉🧐

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