HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a bill today that would create tougher punishments for drug dealers whose products cause serious bodily injuries and impairments, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
Senate Bill 93 would crack down on drug dealers by creating a new statute establishing a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user.
Pennsylvania currently lacks a statute pertaining to serious bodily injury resulting from an overdose. The absence of that statute often forces district attorneys to refer these cases to federal prosecutors who can seek tougher penalties under federal law.
Bartolotta’s bill would eliminate the need for these cases to be referred to overburdened federal courts and allow local prosecutors to hold offenders accountable for their crimes.
“The heroin and opioid epidemic has destroyed too many promising lives and left countless others with the scars of addiction,” Bartolotta said. “As we continue to explore solutions to this public health crisis, we need to ensure the people who are inflicting this pain on our communities suffer the consequences of the pain they cause.”
Senate Bill 93 is part of a package of bills expected to be considered in the Senate this week to combat the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic. The package is a continuation of bipartisan efforts led by Senate Republicans over the past six years to fight back against the addiction crisis.
Beginning in 2014, lawmakers joined the Center for Rural Pennsylvania for a series of hearings to study the problem and identify solutions. As a result of these hearings, new laws were created to limit prescriptions, improve and expand addiction treatment, and improve public education about the dangers of drug abuse.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, opioid drug deaths statewide rose steadily in the early part of the decade before peaking at 5,559 in 2017. The number of opioid drug deaths finally declined in 2018 to 4,267. At the same time, opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania declined by 14 percent between 2016 and 2017.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463