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Inslee signs bills combating fentanyl, opioid addiction in Washington state

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(The Center Square) – Washington state now has more tools to deal with fentanyl addiction in the form of a pair of bills sponsored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, that were signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2396 and House Bill 1635 were signed into law on Tuesday.

HB 2396 is known as “Ivan’s Law” after 24-year-old Ivan Howtopat, a Yakima Nation tribal member who was suffering from fentanyl withdrawal when he took his own life at the Klickitat County Jail in May.

The bill creates an outreach educational program on the dangers of fentanyl and requires jails that release individuals from custody struggling with addiction to provide information about treatment programs related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

“I talked to hundreds of people, some in a tent, some on a reservation, some in my hometown, and learned a lot about fentanyl,” Mosbrucker said in a news release, referencing a trip she took last fall to Camp Hope, an overnight homeless shelter in Yakima. “I heard hours and hours of heartbreaking stories, including Ivan’s story from his mother, Melissa, who attended the bill signing this week.”

Another provision of the legislation requires the state Department of Health to compile resources on how to decontaminate fentanyl residue and other synthetic opioids from motor vehicles.

“Many people shared that the fentanyl user in their family had taken the vehicle, smoked fentanyl inside, and brought it back the next morning. The parent put the baby in the car, not knowing the contamination, and then they became deathly ill,” Mosbrucker said. “We also need to know what to do when a stolen car that may also be contaminated is recovered.”

The other bill sponsored by Mosbrucker, HB 1635, calls for the creation of a model program for the training and certification of fentanyl-detecting dogs in the state by July 1, 2025.

It’s a program Washington desperately needs, according to Mosbrucker.

“Currently, only one dog in the state of Washington is trained to detect fentanyl,” she said. “But the dog’s certification is from California, not Washington. This bill extends the certification of fentanyl-detecting dogs and their handlers in Washington, and expands the training of K-9 teams to safely detect fentanyl and protect human lives.”

Mosbrucker’s bills were part of a suite of bills signed by Inslee meant to combat Washington’s opioid and fentanyl epidemic.

In 2023, there were 1,082 fatal overdoses from fentanyl, according to the Washington State Department of Health. That figure is a 51% increase over 2022, which set a new record.

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