Guest Commentary: Drug epidemic solutions should cross party lines

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Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, serves as the Senate minority leader in the Delaware General Assembly.

As an elected official, I have always tried to do what is best for the constituents in the 20th Senate District. Regardless of party, and sometimes regardless of my own personal convictions, the needs of those I represent are always at the forefront of my mind when deciding on whether to support a particular policy or not.

Some things do not have to be partisan. There are certain measures that transcend the divisive rhetoric that has plagued politics in the 21st century, and we, as members of the General Assembly, must consider this when voting on these proposals.

The drug epidemic is one area that I believe fits this particular mold. Young people are dying at an alarming rate. According to research done by this publication, 105 overdose deaths involved fentanyl between January and April of this year. In general, more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States between April 2020 and April 2021.

We know where fentanyl is coming from and how it is getting into our country. Over 10,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized along the Southern border in 2021. There was a 1,066% increase in the amount of fentanyl seized at eight ports of entry in south Texas in fiscal year 2021.

These figures, and more, were cited in a resolution I introduced in June. Senate Resolution 31 was quite simple. It urged the federal government to take proactive measures to prevent deadly drugs and narcotics from entering the United States, particularly along our Southern border.

I introduced the resolution in the wake of losing a close acquaintance to a drug overdose involving fentanyl. With it hitting so close to home, I simply could not sit idly by. Surely, SR 31 rose above the previously noted partisan divide, right?

Well, shockingly, it did not pass. Not a single member of the Democrat majority in the Senate supported the measure. Why? Instead of attempting to counter the facts about fentanyl distribution in our country and state, some members relied on gaslighting national talking points handed down from national organizations.

One senator in particular, Laura Sturgeon, D-Woodbrook, called the resolution “disturbing and xenophobic.”

This ridiculous assertion was stated with absolutely no foundation in reality. Other members of her caucus cast “no” votes, as well. To refuse to support a resolution that simply asked our federal leaders to try and prevent the flow of deadly drugs into our country was, and is, a slap in the face to the families who have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic.

Our federal leaders must act quickly to curb the crisis at the border and prevent more of our nation’s citizens from dying. As members of the General Assembly, we have the ability to target areas affected by the epidemic with resources and education, and we have done so. Now, it is time for our elected leaders in D.C. to put politics aside and do what must be done at our Southern border to, finally, end this crisis.

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