Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore., is backing a pair of bills in Congress aimed at increasing penalties related to fentanyl trafficking and protecting first responders who may be exposed to the opioid.
Chavez-DeRemer, who represents Oregon’s 5th District including much of Central Oregon, is now a co-sponsor on H.R. 795, the Protecting First Responders from Secondary Exposure Act.
According to DeRemer’s office, the bill “aims to help state and local governments purchase containment devices to safely store narcotics and preserve them for evidentiary use. The bill would also provide subsequent training to reduce first responders’ risk of secondary exposure to lethal substances.”
A video from Florida in December 2022 shows how quickly a police officer became incapacitated and needed immediate medical attention after simply coming within the vicinity of fentanyl during a traffic stop.
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Chavez-DeRemer is also voicing support for H.R. 916 — the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act. The bill would make the distribution of fentanyl that results in death punishable by a felony murder charge.
“The largest fentanyl bust in Oregon’s history happened in the 5th District last year, where enough fentanyl to kill the entire population of Oregon was seized,” Chavez-DeRemer said in a statement.
Chavez-DeRemer was citing a March 2022 bust in Oregon City that seized about 150,000 counterfeit prescriptions pills containing fentanyl and 20 pounds of suspected bulk fentanyl. It had an estimated street value of approximately $4 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal. At 20 pounds, that means the potential to kill 4.5 million people.
“While we must do more to directly prevent cartels from trafficking fentanyl across our border, there are steps we can take now to deter its distribution in our communities and to protect our first responders,” she said.