Governor signs Mosbrucker’s bills to fight fentanyl, encourage treatment

Gov. Jay Inslee signed two bills Tuesday authored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker to fight the scourge of fentanyl addiction in Washington state.

House Bill 2396, also known as “Ivan’s Law,” creates an outreach educational program on the dangers of fentanyl. It also offers information to those released from jail on treatment programs related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, wrote the law after holding community meetings last year in Goldendale, Toppenish, and Yakima on the deadly and addictive drug and its impacts.

“When meeting with nearly 200 homeless people at Camp Hope in Yakima last fall, an individual took the microphone and said, ‘You’re asking me on the street when I have a heroin needle in my arm or I’m smoking fentanyl if I’d like to go to jail or treatment. I can’t make a good decision with my life at that point,’ adding that he’d probably do what he could to have his drugs,” Mosbrucker said. “But when he was at the Yakima jail, a corrections officer saw that this man was doing better because he was now sober and asked the inmate if he would like to have treatment. At that time, the individual said ‘yes,’ got the help he needed, and told me his story. That inspired part of this legislation.”

The bill is named after 24-year-old Ivan Howtopat, a Yakama Nation tribal member, who was suffering from fentanyl withdrawal when he committed suicide in the Klickitat County jail last May.

“I talked to hundreds of people, some in a tent, some on a reservation, some in my hometown, and learned a lot about fentanyl. I heard hours and hours of heartbreaking stories, including Ivan’s story from his mother, Melissa, who attended the bill signing this week,” said Mosbrucker.

The measure also has the state Department of Health 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,” said Mosbrucker. “We also need to know what to do when a stolen car that may also be contaminated is recovered.”

The other Mosbrucker legislation signed Tuesday is House Bill 1635, which creates a model program in Washington by July 1, 2025, for the training and certification of dogs to detect fentanyl.

“Currently, only one dog in the state of Washington is trained to detect fentanyl. But the dog’s certification is from California, not Washington,” said Mosbrucker. “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.”

The measure also grants civil immunity to trained law enforcement officers who use a police dog in good faith in the line of duty 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. This protects canine handlers from lawsuits in the case where a dog detects the pharmaceutical fentanyl,” she added.

Both bills become effective June 6.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov