GOP Working To Introduce Fentanyl Legislation

By Hugh McKean, House Minority Leader

In the nearly two months since the Colorado General Assembly returned to session, I’ve been back in the Capitol working with legislators and casting votes to improve the lives of Coloradans.

At the start of this legislative session, House and Senate Republicans rolled out our “Commitment to Colorado” legislative package focused on making Colorado affordable, prioritizing public safety, and expanding educational choice. These are the issues keeping Coloradans up at night – the issues that you, the people of Colorado, have been telling us are most concerning. 

With an election on the horizon, Democrats are suddenly scrambling to persuade Coloradans that they have solutions to these problems. Problems that they created.

One of the most devastating policies enacted by our Democrat-controlled state government is House Bill 19-1263. This bill, passed in 2019, made the possession of fewer than four grams of fentanyl (as well as ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin) a drug misdemeanor instead of a drug felony, releasing criminals back onto the streets and allowing drug dealers to continue distributing fentanyl.

In 2020, I introduced legislation to repeal HB19-1263 and revert the law to the previous standards. My bill failed in the House of Representatives and HB19-1263 continued to wreak havoc in the lives of Coloradans.

Between 2019 and 2020, fentanyl overdoses doubled. Since 2016, fentanyl overdoses in Colorado have multiplied by over 10 times, tragically making our state eighth highest in the nation for an increase in fentanyl deaths from 2015 to 2021.

In the first half of 2021, on average, two Coloradans died per day from fentanyl overdoses. If those statistics have remained consistent – if these numbers haven’t risen at all – we have lost over 120 Coloradans to fentanyl overdoses since the beginning of 2022. Take a moment to think about that – that’s the size of 2.5 full NFL football teams, almost twice the size of the Colorado House of Representatives, and significantly larger than some of our high school graduating classes.

Every life lost is a tragedy. This public safety crisis must be stopped.

Republican members are working to introduce legislation to address this crisis and increase penalties for fentanyl possession. 

We will uphold our commitment to you and do all that we can to make Colorado affordable, prioritize public safety, and expand educational choices.

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About the Author:

Hugh McKean is a Republican and Colorado’s House Minority Leader. He represents House District 51.