We must stop fentanyl traffickers — House Bill 406 is needed for Idaho

By Idaho Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke
Reader Contributor

There is a killer in our midst, hiding in plain sight. The dangerous and highly lethal drug fentanyl has made its way into Idaho and is killing our citizens in record numbers. In 2022, 49% of all overdose deaths in Idaho were related to fentanyl, and that number is likely underreported. 

We need to send a clear message to the drug cartels and traffickers who are sneaking this drug into our state that they are not welcome in our communities. 

Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke. File photo.

One way to send that message is to pass House Bill 406. This bill passed out of the Idaho House of Representatives on Jan. 29, and is now heading to the Idaho Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee. This legislation will add fentanyl trafficking to our mandatory minimum sentencing law, which already applies to other hard drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Support for this legislation is strong; more than 86% of Idahoans agree with its provisions.

It’s important to clarify that House Bill 406 does not target fentanyl users or victims. This proposed law would apply only to those found guilty of intentionally producing, importing, distributing or selling fentanyl into Idaho. This epidemic must be cut off at the source — and that source is the traffickers.  

Fentanyl is a highly effective, and highly addictive, narcotic pain killer — as much as 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. The drug traffickers know this, which is why they mix small amounts into other drugs which are often made to look like regular medications. But sometimes the “small amounts” are enough to be deadly. So, an unsuspecting person may think they are taking a helpful prescription pill, but in fact they may be ingesting a lethal dose of fentanyl.

This drug is a danger to law enforcement and health care/EMT personnel as well because they may come into direct contact with fentanyl in the course of their duties. Because it is lethal even in miniscule amounts, these public servants are put at risk more and more often as illegal fentanyl use increases on our streets.

According to the DEA, every fentanyl pill has a 70% chance of containing a lethal dose. Do you want your teenager or loved one to take that chance?

Idaho must take a hard stance on trafficking. We need to send a clear message by imposing stringent sentencing guidelines for those selling this deadly poison to unsuspecting Idahoans. House Bill 406 will hold fentanyl traffickers accountable and will cause drug cartels to rethink doing business in Idaho due to the risks of prison time.  

My colleagues and I have a duty to protect Idaho’s citizens. House Bill 406 supports law enforcement, deters drug cartels, holds traffickers accountable and helps prevent more overdose deaths. I urge you to reach out to your legislators to voice support for mandatory minimum sentencing for fentanyl traffickers and tell them to vote “yes” on House Bill 406. 

Scott Bedke has served as the 44th lieutenant governor of Idaho since January 2023. Prior to that, he served 22 years in the Idaho Legislature, including as House speaker from 2012 until 2022 — making him the longest-serving speaker in the state’s history.

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