RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Senate Democrats killed another effort to pass a top priority for Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) that would have allowed dealers to be charged with second-degree murder if a drug user dies of an overdose.
The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee defeated House Bill 1642 sponsored by Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) on a party-line vote Monday nearly a month after the panel rejected a similar bill from state Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover).
The legislation would have allowed prosecutors to charge a drug dealer with second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of five to 40 years, if a user accidentally overdoses and dies.
“The governor is disappointed that Senate Democrats are preventing votes on these common sense bills,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement. “These bills have passed on a bipartisan basis and they should receive full consideration in the senate.”
Representatives from the governor’s administration and Virginia Attorney General’s Office spoke in favor of Del. Kilgore’s bill Monday, saying the legislation doesn’t seek to criminalize addicts but hold dealers accountable.
The committee’s debate Monday touched on similar points brought up last month. Opponents raised concerns over the bill’s impact on the “good Samaritan law,” claiming the measure would discourage people from calling 911 to report overdoses.
Supporters said the “good Samaritan law” only shields people against possession charges, but not felony homicide charges if they share drugs with someone who dies of an overdose. They noted the proposal would have capped the penalty for such an offense to a Class 5 felony.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) voted with Democrats to reject Kilgore’s bill, flipping his vote on Sen. McDougle’s proposal.