By Daniel Stefanski |
The threat of fentanyl is becoming too great for any political party to ignore, but Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs jettisoned a bipartisan proposal to protect Arizona children from this deadly drug.
Earlier this month, Governor Hobbs vetoed SB 1027, sponsored by Senator Anthony Kern, which would have established “knowingly manufacturing carfentanil, fentanyl or fentanyl memetic substances under any circumstance that causes physical injury to a minor who is under 15 years of age as a class 2 felony offense punishable as a dangerous crime against children and makes changes to existing sentencing provisions for certain narcotic drug offenses.”
Hobbs didn’t elaborate much in her veto letter to the Arizona Legislature, writing, “Last week I signed a bill continuing Arizona’s ‘Good Samaritan Law.’ I fear that this bill, particularly Section 2, would undermine the purpose of that law. I encourage the legislature to send me a narrower bill that focuses on the manufacture of fentanyl.”
Senator Kern, the bill sponsor, issued a press release following the governor’s action on his legislation, “expressing concern and dismay,” stating: “We have been fighting the opioid epidemic not just in Arizona, but nationwide for decades. The least we can do is try to protect our children and future generations from exposure to a deadly drug often laced into opioids. This bill had the support of many Democrats, yet Governor Hobbs continues to show her priorities are out of line.”
Kern then addressed Hobbs’ reference to the ‘Good Samaritan Law,’ saying, “In her veto letter, she claims she didn’t sign the bill out of fear it would undermine the Good Samaritan Law which protects individuals who intervene to save someone experiencing an opioid overdose. Not only is it a misleading stretch to reach this conclusion, Hobbs is more concerned with protecting fentanyl manufacturers and providers than implementing real measures that protect our children and communities from these dangerous drugs. We as legislators have done our job. We created a bill with bipartisan support to tackle a very real and serious issue. Why is Hobbs not doing hers, and instead continuing to play political games?”
In January, the bill passed through Kern’s Senate Judiciary Committee, garnering six votes against one in opposition; Democrat Senators Marsh and Epstein voted with four Republicans on the committee. The full Senate then approved of the measure, 21-8 – with one member not voting. The bill was transmitted to the Arizona House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee, where it passed along party lines, 5-3. The full House then cleared the bill by a bipartisan vote of 35-24 (with one member not voting).
Democrat Representative Analise Ortiz, who voted against the bill in the House Judiciary Committee and on the floor, cheered on the governor’s veto, tweeting, “Thank you, Gov. Hobbs for vetoing SB 1027, a bill that would’ve caused far more harm than good. The evidence shows us that broad criminalization of addiction is not effective. We must get serious about addressing the fentanyl crisis by investing in drug treatment and prevention.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.