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Legislature At Odds Over Fentanyl Sentencing

Florida Legislature
Florida House of Representatives
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The House on Thursday rejected a Senate plan to give judges more leeway in sentencing people convicted of fentanyl trafficking.

In a voice vote, the House backed Rep. Jim Boyd's plea to reject a Senate amendment to a bill (HB 477) imposing tough criminal penalties on people who sell fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin.

Boyd, R-Bradenton, urged the House to stick with the bill's requirement for minimum mandatory sentences for people convicted of possessing four or more grams of fentanyl. “If we can't insist those scumbags go to jail … then shame on us,” Boyd said.

The bill now returns to the Senate where senators will have to reconsider an amendment from Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, that would allow judges to depart from the minimum mandatory prison sentences.

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday declared a “state of emergency” in Florida because of an opioid crisis that has led to the overdose deaths of hundreds of Floridians.