Arizona Local News

Arizona Senate passes bill related to Fentanyl Death and Murder Charges

Arizona Senate passes bill related to Fentanyl Death and Murder Charges

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs may have the final say on the legislation, but the proposal to classify some fentanyl-related deaths as felony murder is moving forward in Arizona.

The Senate approved the bill with a vote of 18-10-2, as Democratic Sens. Christine Marsh and Catherine Miranda supported the legislation on Thursday.

In February, The Center Square published an article about Senate Bill 1344, introduced by Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale. The bill aims to hold individuals accountable for first-degree murder if they are involved in giving someone a lethal amount of fentanyl.

The fact sheet states that causing the death of any person during the course of certain offenses is classified as first-degree murder. The potential consequences include a life sentence or even capital punishment in certain situations.

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Many children are losing their lives due to fentanyl smuggling by cartels across the border. The problem is escalating, and we need to implement stricter punishments for offenders who introduce this harmful drug into our neighborhoods,” Kern stated to The Center Square in a release, reiterating a similar view during his speech on the floor.

Some Democrats doubt its effectiveness, pointing to the “War on Drugs.”

“It does not decrease the supply or demand of drugs,” stated Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein as she voted against it.

Marsh mentioned that she voted yes, albeit reluctantly. Marsh emphasized the need to address the crisis without relying solely on criminalization, expressing willingness to support stricter penalties.

Some Republicans suggested that implementing austerity measures could be a beneficial approach to resolving the current situation.

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“The idea that drug enforcement is ineffective is simply not true,” stated Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills.

There were numerous votes at the legislature this week, with Senate and House bills moving between chambers. Once a bill passes both chambers, it will be sent to Hobbs’ desk for her final decision on its fate.

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