Pa.’s Fitzpatrick rolls out bipartisan bill aimed at fighting fentanyl trafficking | Monday Morning Coffee

U.S. Rep Brian Fitzpatrick. (AFGE/Flickr)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With Democrats looking to complete a sweep of suburban Philly’s Congressional seats in 2020, GOP U.S.. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, has been taking just about every opportunity he can to reach across the aisle to work with the House’s Democratic majority.

From LGBTQ civil rights to fighting the water contaminant known as PFAS, the Bucks County lawmaker hasn’t let a chance for some inter-party cooperation pass him by this year. And a new bill aimed at fighting the proliferation of the synthetic opioid fentanyl fits right in with that effort.

This week, Fitzpatrick joined with U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., for legislation that extends a federal deadline treating fentanyl as a Schedule I narcotic. The legislation gives the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration extra tools its toolkit to combat the drug, said the two lawmakers, who are co-chairs of the House’s Bipartisan Heroin & Opioid Task Force.

The provision in federal law that treats Fentanyl as a Schedule I drug is currently set to expire in February of 2020, they said in statement. The bill, if approved, would extend the deadline by an additional two years. It was placed on the Schedule I list on a temporary basis in February 2018.

As the two lawmakers note in their statement, fentanyl is some serious stuff. It’s “100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, making it harder to detect since it can be distributed in smaller amounts.”

If approved, the bill would “[include] all fentanyl analogues as part of that class of drugs. Fentanyl analogues have additions or substitutions to the core molecule as described under the DEA temporary scheduling of fentanyl-related substances. Due to the large number of possible variations to the fentanyl molecule, there is a wide variance in potency,” the two lawmakers said.

Image via Flickr Commons

“Fentanyl is a manufactured opioid which, — especially in its illicit versions — is extremely dangerous and illegal imports of these synthetic opioids has spiked in the past three years. Our nation’s drug epidemic is a complicated issue and our response must be multi-faceted,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “The DEA needs to keep fighting these substances on the frontlines and the Extend Act will maintain a valuable tool for them to utilize.”

Kuster added that the bill will “ensure the [DEA] has the tools it needs to address the increasing prevalence of dangerous synthetics that pose a threat to public health and safety.”

Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso 
goes deep on a bill expanding telemedicine in Pennsylvania and how anti-choice forces are using it to try to curtail access to medical abortion.

Elizabeth Hardison has what you need to know about the Legislature taking a mulligan on a bill that inadvertently stripped school police officers of their arrest authority.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: A bill now before City Council would change the city’s real estate tax abatement program.

And on our Commentary Page, opinion regular Dick Polman says EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland went ‘Full Agatha Christie’ on the Trump administration. And the Philly Tribune’s John N. Mitchell has a few thoughts about the Philly branch of the Fraternal Order of Police.

(Image via Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
The Inquirer
 has a look at Pennsylvania’s new law requiring immigration checks for construction jobs, saying it’s sparked an ‘identity crisis.’ (Here’s our look at the issue from the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso who was out in front of the debate.)
The Post-Gazette says tensions are rising between the Pittsburgh schools and Mayor Bill Peduto’s office after a critical report by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
PennLive has a look at the new federal courthouse under construction in Midtown Harrisburg.
The Morning Call explains how a ‘strange 1937 provision’ could impact a potential recount in Northampton County’s judicial contests.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

Rapper Meek Mill has a plan to fix Philly’s schools. Some parents are skeptical, BillyPenn reports.
The PA Post has five things to know about Pennsylvania and gun suicides.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics.
Roll Call looks at how impeachment is playing in the key battleground state of Wisconsin.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 and First Lady Frances Wolf drop in on McCurdy’s Tree Farm in Dillsburg, York County,  for a 2:15 p.m. event encouraging people to buy PA Preferred holiday trees this year. You’re on your own for that Festivus pole, however.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to longtime Friend O’the Blog, Eric Epstein, of Rock the Capital, who celebrated on Sunday. Congratulations go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Matt Zencey, who’s living his best life as a gentleman writer. Enjoy the day, old friend.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a new one from Mura Masa, featuring Slowthai that caught our attention. It’s ‘Deal Wiv It.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link. 
Carolina skated past Detroit 2-0 on Sunday. The ‘Canes James Reimer made 19 saves on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date. 

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.