As the Texas Senate has begun to deliberate and pass legislation, they unanimously passed a bill this week that would charge fentanyl distributors with murder.

Republican State Sen. Joan Huffman from Houston introduced Senate Bill 645, also known as the “Combating Fentanyl” bill, which would increase the penalty for fentanyl production and sales to a first-degree felony of murder punishable by a lifetime imprisonment.

The bill would also enforce that a medical death certificate state the cause of death as “fentanyl poisoning” if a toxicology examination reveals that a lethal dosage of opioids is in the system of a decedent.

“We have tragically learned the extent of how dangerous fentanyl is and how even under 1 gram is so dangerous,” Huffman said while introducing her bill. “It’s a fact that fentanyl is flooding our borders. It is absolutely without a doubt killing our citizens on a daily basis. And it’s time that we take a comprehensive approach to combat this.”

The war on opioids has been an ongoing priority for many in the Texas Legislature, as more than 800 Texans have overdosed on fentanyl-related pills in 2022. The United States Drug Enforcement Association has already seized more than 8.1 million pills and more than 1,600 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023 alone.

Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott made fighting the fentanyl crisis an emergency item, sharing that Operation Lone Star has seized enough lethal doses to kill every person living in the United States.

Senate Bill 1319 was also unanimously passed by the Senate, which would make it mandatory for first responders to provide overdose information to government entities to record on an overdose mapping system. The information would include a time and date of an overdose, approximate location, whether it was fatal or nonfatal, and whether any opioid antagonist was given to a patient.

Both bills were passed unanimously in the Senate and will head to the House for more deliberation. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.