BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Alabama lawmakers are considering a bill that would require mandatory prison sentences for anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl to the state. As of now, fines are the minimum punishment. The bill was proposed during the regular session of the legislature.
House Bill 1 is sponsored by 15 Alabama representatives including Rep. Matt Simpson of Baldwin County.
“This bill will be a priority,” said Simpson. “This will be one of the first bills we take up in the committee meeting we have when we come back into session which is March 21.”
Of 65 drug overdoses last year in Baldwin County, 45 were due to the fentanyl, according to the Baldwin County Coroners Office. Fentanyl is a nationwide crisis and lawmakers in Montgomery have taken notice with a bill that targets drug dealers, specifically those trafficking fentanyl.
“There is no current mandatory minimum sentence on fentanyl,” said Simson. “That did not make sense to me.”
The proposed bill cannot be signed soon enough for doctors like Dr. Bradley Brooks who says fentanyl overdoses are not slowing down and stiffer penalties may be the solution.
“Essentially, almost all of the new patients I see coming in for treatment for their problems with opioids will have had an encounter with fentanyl, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and I’d say upwards of 75% of them will have an accidental overdose,” said Brooks.
Governor Kay Ivey gave her State of the State address Tuesday night and addressed the ongoing fentanyl overdose issues.
“I am urging legislators to pass House Bill 1, so I can sign it into law as soon as possible,” said Ivey. “By doing this, we will put any traffickers behind bars and keep them there.”
Rep. Simpson said he is confident the bill will pass.