Passage of Wilson bill leads off Senate fight against fentanyl

Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-17

OLYMPIA… Sen. Lynda Wilson’s effort to protect children from being harmed by fentanyl exposure has sailed through the state Senate for a second straight year.

Senate Bill 5010 is one of two Wilson bills passed today, as senators near the one-third mark of the 60-day legislative session. It would expand the crime of “endangerment with a controlled substance” to include fentanyl and synthetic opioids. The change would be the first in nearly 20 years to the law, which now refers only to methamphetamine and ingredients used in its manufacture.

“We know what the legal consequences are when a child dies from being exposed to fentanyl,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver, “but what about the children who are harmed by being around fentanyl, just not fatally? They also deserve justice – and there should be a special place in state law for the adults who endanger them.”

SB 5010 would apply to someone who intentionally allows a child or dependent adult to have contact with a drug like fentanyl, whether it’s through inhaling, absorbing or ingesting. The crime would be a class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“If anything has come from the failed social experiment that decriminalized hard drugs, it’s that some people need more incentive to seek treatment for substance-use disorder. While we work on enhancing access to treatment, let’s do what we can to deter opioid users from allowing vulnerable people to have contact with these poisons,” said Wilson, a member of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

The same bill died in the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee in 2023, despite having received the Senate’s unanimous support. A Seattle Democrat who supported SB 5010 last year was the lone “no” vote today.

The vote on Wilson’s legislation coincides with today’s debut of the “Recovery Washington” package of Senate Republican bills focused on drug-use prevention and treatment.

The Recovery Washington bills include her SB 5906, which would have the state Department of Health oversee an awareness campaign about the dangers of methamphetamines and opioids, with emphasis on fentanyl – and what Wilson calls a “One Pill Kills” theme.

SB 5906 was passed by the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Jan. 16 and is now before the Ways and Means Committee.

Senators today also backed Wilson’s SB 5835, which would require state agencies to post summaries of their rules that are in plain language and no more than 100 words in length. Her bill applies to emergency rules, and permanent rules – either proposed or adopted within the past 12 months.

“These rules carry the force of law on those who must comply. It isn’t fair to expect compliance if the rules are too complicated for the average person to read and understand,” she said.