Governor Rick Scott today hosted a ceremonial bill signing at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center for HB 477, which creates new penalties and enhances existing penalties relating to synthetic opioid drugs, including fentanyl. This bill, along with the Public Health Emergency Governor Scott directed in May, will help communities fight the national opioid epidemic and keep Florida families and visitors safe. Governor Scott was joined by Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, Congressman Vern Buchanan, and local law enforcement officers.
Governor Scott said, “I was proud to stand beside some of our hardworking Florida law enforcement officers to ceremonially sign this important legislation today. Our law enforcement officers are at the frontline of our fight against the national opioid epidemic and are often the first to respond to vulnerable families impacted by substance abuse. We will continue to do all we can to ensure our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to keep our state safe for Floridians and visitors.”
Congressman Vern Buchanan said, “I was pleased to join Governor Scott today for the ceremonial signing of this important legislation. Our communities are coming together to combat the opioid crisis and it is important that our federal and state partners continue to work side by side on this issue. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to keep families in Manatee County, Sarasota County and all across Florida safe.”
Governor Scott also highlighted the more than $27 million in federal grant funding that was made immediately available through the Public Health Emergency declaration. As part of this federal funding, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) allocated $375,000 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for Naloxone so first responders have immediate access to this lifesaving drug to respond to opioid overdoses. DCF and FDLE are working together to ensure local law enforcement agencies have access to this opportunity to obtain Naloxone for Florida’s law enforcement officers. DCF is also working to ensure recently purchased Naloxone is distributed to drug treatment providers, health centers, and other community agencies.
Sheriff Tom Knight said, “This bill gives our agency more resources to combat opioid abuse and keep vulnerable Floridians safe from harm. We appreciate the support of Governor Scott and our state leaders as we continue to work together fight the national opioid epidemic.”
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “We are happy to work with DCF to ensure our local law enforcement partners receive additional resources to help combat the opioid epidemic.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “We appreciate the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to help fight the national opioid epidemic in Florida. DCF remains steadfastly committed to making sure quality treatment is available to all those struggling with addiction.”