ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott hosted a ceremonial bill signing at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for HB 477, which creates new penalties and enhances existing penalties relating to synthetic opioid drugs, including fentanyl. This bill, along with the Public Health Emergency Governor Scott directed in May, will help communities fight the national opioid epidemic and keep Florida families and visitors safe. Governor Scott was joined by Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, City of Orlando Police Chief John Mina, and local law enforcement officers.

Governor Scott said, “Our law enforcement officers are often on the frontlines of responding to heartbreaking and challenging situations of the opioid crisis, and I was proud to ceremonially sign this bill alongside Central Florida law enforcement officers today. This legislation sends a strong message that the State of Florida will not tolerate those who would take advantage of the vulnerable Floridians who are fighting in this national opioid epidemic. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, and it is crucial that we remain committed to doing all we can to ensure they have the support and services they need. I look forward to working with the Legislature during the next legislative session to continue to find ways to fight the opioid crisis on behalf of the many families affected by this important issue.”

Governor Scott also highlighted the more than $27 million in federal grant funding that was made immediately available through the Public Health Emergency declaration. As part of this federal funding, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) allocated $375,000 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for Naloxone so first responders have immediate access to this lifesaving drug to respond to opioid overdoses. DCF and FDLE are working together to ensure local law enforcement agencies have access to this opportunity to obtain Naloxone for Florida’s law enforcement officers. DCF is also working to ensure recently purchased Naloxone is distributed to drug treatment providers, health centers, and other community agencies.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said, “Our deputies have been actively working to address opioid abuse across Orange County to keep our families and visitors safe. I appreciate Governor Scott’s commitment to this serious issue and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our officers have all the resources they need in this fight.”

City of Orlando Police Chief John Mina said, “I am grateful to Governor Scott for signing legislation that will help our hardworking officers combat drug trafficking and keep these dangerous individuals from potentially harming Florida families. We will continue to be fully committed to fighting the opioid epidemic in Central Florida and across the state.”

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “We are pleased to be part of the effort to ensure our local law enforcement partners receive additional resources to help combat the opioid epidemic. The safety of our partners and our citizens is paramount and this effort will help save lives.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “DCF remains absolutely committed to making sure quality treatment is available to all those struggling with addiction. We appreciate the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to help fight the national opioid epidemic in Florida.”

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