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California legislators unveil bipartisan fentanyl, shoplifting bill package

While some measures clearly target the two crises, others seem to have a more tenuous connection.

Published: February 27, 2024 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) - The California legislature unveiled a bipartisan package of bills targeting the states’ theft and fentanyl overdose crises. Because the bills are backed by the state senate’s highest ranking Democratic and Republican leaders, they have a strong chance at passage. While some measures clearly target the two crises, others seem to have a more tenuous connection.

The 14-bill package includes two categories of bills — an “evidence-based approach to fentanyl” largely focused on healthcare access, and “combating retail theft and community-based crime.”

SB 1144, introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkely, would require “an online marketplace to verify and certify that each consumer product advertised on its platform by a high-volume third-party seller was produced, procured, purchased, or acquired in a lawful manner.” It also would require California to “create a licensing system for online marketplaces and high-volume third-party sellers and assess a reasonable license fee, as specified, to cover the reasonable regulatory costs of developing, implementing, and maintaining [a California Online Market Anti-Theft] system and the licensing system.”

It is unclear how much everyday shoplifting translates to large-scale selling on platforms on Amazon. In San Francisco, for example, many shoplifters fence their goods through illegal street vending operations.

SB 1416, from State Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, was introduced as a spot bill with limited information but is announced to be amended to increase penalties for professional organized retail theft.

State Sen. Scott Wiener’s, D-San Francisco, SB 905, would end a loophole in state law allowing thieves who break and enter into a car to escape without a conviction if prosecution cannot prove that the car was locked. Today, criminals who break into a car, often via a window, and unlock it largely cannot be successfully prosecuted — this law would allow forcible entry, such as the breaking of a window, to serve as evidence.

SB 1442, introduced by State Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bough, R-Yucaipa, and SB 1468 (Ochoa Bough and State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside) are directed at fentanyl. SB 1442 would direct CalRx, the state-owned drug production group, to create fentanyl testing strips to allow other drugs potentially laced with fentanyl to be tested by end-users, while SB 1468 was also introduced as a spot bill but is supposed to be amended to encourage providers to issue three-day prescriptions for Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal medication.

SB 1502, by State Sen. Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento, follows California Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for preventing the illicit use and trafficking of Xylazine, a drug otherwise known as “tranq” that has been responsible for rising overdose deaths nationwide.

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