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DeSantis signs bills to protect officers from fentanyl exposure, raise awareness for opioid epidemic


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills Monday that aim to address the opioid epidemic in the state by increasing penalties for exposing police to fentanyl and raising awareness for life-saving measures for someone experiencing an opioid overdose.

DeSantis, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 718 and Senate Bill 66 during a news conference at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Professional Development Center in Sanford, Florida.

“Because of the Biden administration’s unwillingness to secure the southern border, law enforcement officers are encountering fentanyl at alarming rates,” DeSantis said. “I’m signing legislation today to keep officers safe on the job, and to further combat the opioid epidemic.”

Senate Bill 718 would make it a second-degree felony for adults who, while unlawfully possessing fentanyl, recklessly expose a first responder to the substance, leading to overdose or serious bodily injury.

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Ron DeSantis

DeSantis, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 718 and Senate Bill 66 during a news conference at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Professional Development Center in Sanford, Florida. (SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images)

The legislation also expands protection from the law for people who, in good faith, solicit medical assistance on the belief that they or someone they know is experiencing an alcohol or drug-related overdose.

Senate Bill 66 will designate June 6 as Revive Awareness Day in the Sunshine State. The law directs the Florida Department of Health to raise awareness each year of the dangers of an opioid overdose and the availability and safe use of opioid counteractants to quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The law, also known as Victoria’s Law, is named after Victoria Siegel, an 18-year-old girl who died of an accidental, lethal overdose of heroin and anti-depression medication in 2015. She was the daughter of Florida mogul David Siegel.

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Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills Monday that aim to address the opioid epidemic. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

DeSantis also announced that the Coordinated Opioid Recovery Network, or CORE, has expanded from 12 counties to 17 additional counties in Florida, including Bay, Broward, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and St. Lucie counties.

Under CORE, Florida has seen a reduction in the number of emergency medical service responses necessary for drug overdose, the governor said.

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“Opioid addiction has been a scourge in the lives of too many Floridians and too many Americans around the country,” State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said at the news conference. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis and the support of our legislators, we are continuing to take steps to address this human tragedy. CORE’s expansion will support and treat more Floridians and serve as a model for states around the country.”



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