Abbott Signs Laws To Combat Fentanyl Deaths

Fentanyl Deaths
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed four bills into law on Wednesday. | Image by Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed four bills into law on Wednesday to combat the deadly fentanyl crisis affecting the state.

“The fentanyl epidemic has taken far too many innocent lives, but thanks to the work by brave parents and loved ones, like those here today, we have made Texans aware of this crisis,” Abbott said in a press release announcing the signage of the bills.

Joining Abbott at the bill signing ceremony were many parents and relatives of people killed by fentanyl, several of whom held up pictures of their loved ones.

“These four laws will forever change Texas through new protections that will help save lives,” he continued. “In 2022, more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas — or more than five a day. It is the No.1 killer of Americans ages 18-45.”

Texas Against Fentanyl founder Stefanie Turner applauded the signing of House Bill 3908, named Tucker’s Law after her 19-year-old son who died from fentanyl poisoning.

HB 3908 mandates that taxpayer-funded public schools must teach a yearly lesson regarding fentanyl and drug abuse awareness.

“I am honored that Tucker’s Law is officially a law starting today that will provide education and resources to our students and parents across the state,” she said in the release. “While Tucker’s Law is named in honor of my son, it isn’t for my son. It’s for every living son and daughter across Texas.”

Jenna Mitchell, a student advocate against fentanyl, similarly remarked, “Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, and younger Texans, like me, are especially vulnerable,” per the press release.

“Many students have never even heard about fentanyl or its deadly effects. There is a critical need to increase awareness and expand education on the dangers of fentanyl in our schools,” she continued. “Over 5.4 million Texas public school students depend on it.”

HB 3144 names October as “Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month” and encourages that it be observed, “through appropriate activities in communities to increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and potential overdoses.”

Senate Bill 867 enables NARCAN, an opioid antagonist, to be distributed to colleges and universities in the state. It was authored by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas).

Abbott also signed HB 6, which increases punishments for fentanyl-related crimes to first-degree felonies.

Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth), the author of the bill, said after the signing, “Texas now has sent a strong message to those who distribute and sell fentanyl in this state that if you are caught and convicted you will be going away for a very long time.”

Some observers expressed exasperation that laws to stop fentanyl deaths were passed before legislation on other matters.

Verna Schertz tweeted, “BUT NO LAWS ON THE REAL KILLER IN TEXAS … GUNS??????”

Similarly, Edith Reed addressed Abbott, saying, “Great job with fentanyl! Glad you are so proud of yourself. Now do something about all those parents who have children who were killed by automatic weapons. Do you care as much about them?”

Others, such as Susan Stewart, criticized Abbott for not pushing hard enough for legalizing fentanyl testing strips, saying, “Maybe all those people would still be alive if you had [made] test strips legal.”

All of the bills signed by Abbott received broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Texas Legislature.

Abbott had made addressing the fentanyl crisis one of his priority items for the 88th Legislative Session during his State of the State address, as reported by The Dallas Express.

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