Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed multiple bills into law including one allowing prosecutors to charge fentanyl distributors with murder.
The laws signed by the Governor represents a significant step in the state’s fight against the deadly opioid that will prosecute fentanyl deaths as murder, ensure death certificates reflect when people are poisoned by fentanyl, provide more life-saving NARCAN to Texas colleges and universities, and educate young Texans about the dangers of fentanyl.
“The fentanyl epidemic has taken far too many innocent lives, but thanks to the work by brave parents and loved ones, like those here today, we have made Texans aware of this crisis,” said Governor Abbott. “These four laws will forever change Texas through new protections that will help save lives. In 2022, more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas—or more than five a day. It is the No. 1 killer of Americans ages 18-45. And as I noted at our fentanyl summit a few months ago, just one pill kills. In my State of the State address at the beginning of this session, I made curbing the fentanyl epidemic an emergency item. Today, I am signing four new laws that will save countless lives.”
House Bill 6 (Goldman/Huffman) creates a criminal offense of murder for supplying fentanyl that results in death, enhances the criminal penalty for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl, and requires deaths caused by fentanyl to be designated as fentanyl toxicity or fentanyl poisoning on a death certificate. Current law does not require such classification on a death certificate, with most fentanyl-related deaths currently classified as an overdose.
During his State of the State Address in February, the Governor made fighting the fentanyl crisis an emergency item for lawmakers to address in the regular legislative session.
Governor Abbott was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Senators Brandon Creighton, Donna Campbell, Joan Huffman, and Royce West; Representatives Craig Goldman, John Lujan, and Terry Wilson; Texas Against Fentanyl (TXAF) Founder Stefanie Turner; Leander High School alumna and student fentanyl advocate Jenna Mitchell; dozens of families who lost loved ones to fentanyl; and other fentanyl awareness advocates.
Other fentanyl related bills signed were:
House Bill 3144 (Lujan/Campbell) establishes October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month to help increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.
House Bill 3908 (Wilson/Creighton), also known as Tucker’s Law, requires public schools each year to provide research-based instruction on fentanyl abuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness to students grades 6 through 12. The bill also requires the Governor to designate a Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Week.
Senate Bill 867 (West/Rose) allows the distribution of opioid antagonists, including life-saving NARCAN, to Texas colleges and universities to prevent opioid poisonings.
“I am honored that Tucker’s Law is officially a law starting today that will provide education and resources to our students and parents across the state,” said TXAF Founder Turner. “While Tucker’s Law is named in honor of my son, it isn’t for my son. It’s for every living son and daughter across Texas. Thank you, Governor Abbott, for recognizing this massive problem and for trailblazing across the state.”
“Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, and younger Texans, like me, are especially vulnerable,” said student advocate Mitchell. “Many students have never even heard about fentanyl or its deadly effects. There is a critical need to increase awareness and expand education on the dangers of fentanyl in our schools. Over 5.4 million Texas public school students depend on it. Thanks to Governor Abbott and members of the legislature, Texas is fixing that today.”