Mosbrucker fentanyl detection bill providing immunity to law enforcement K-9 handlers gains unanimous House approval

A bill that would create a model program in Washington for the training and certification of dogs to detect fentanyl and provide immunity under certain circumstances to law enforcement K-9 handlers passed the House unanimously Wednesday.

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, author of House Bill 1635 and ranking Republican on the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee, says fentanyl has taken a life nearly every five minutes in the last year. She called the measure, “a step forward.”

“We should be in a state of emergency because of the crisis we are in due to fentanyl,” said Mosbrucker.

The bill would require the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to develop model standards by Dec. 1, 2024, to train and certify K-9 teams to detect fentanyl.

Law enforcement K-9 handlers would also be immune from civil damages arising from using dogs to detect fentanyl.

“There are two kinds of fentanyl: pharmaceutical, which helps people through surgeries and cancer treatment, and the illegally manufactured fentanyl, which is killing people,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale. “The bill makes sure those K-9 officers have immunity in certain circumstances, such as if the dog alerts to a person wearing a fentanyl patch for cancer treatment.”

Under the bill, immunity from civil damages would take effect on Jan. 1, 2025, for a state, local government or law enforcement agency and their employees if a K-9 is trained and certified to CJTC standards, the dog is being handled by a law enforcement officer acting within the scope of his/her duties, and there is no gross negligence or willful misconduct.

“Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous drug with devastating effects on families and communities across Washington,” added Mosbrucker, who held a series of fentanyl town meetings last year in Goldendale, Toppenish and Yakima to hear from those impacted by the narcotic. “We need to do everything possible to stop this drug from destroying people’s lives.”

On the House floor, Mosbrucker pleaded to other lawmakers a message be shared.

“Don’t die to get high because fentanyl is fatal,” she said.

House Bill 1365 passed the House, 96-0. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

Eight other bills authored by Mosbrucker remain alive and active following the first major deadline of the 2024 session Wednesday, in which policy bills must be passed from their respective policy committees in the chamber where they originated, or they may be “dead” for the year.

PHOTO: Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, urges to support House Bill 1365 during consideration of the fentanyl K-9 bill Wednesday on the House floor.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov