DES MOINES, IOWA (January 26, 2023) — Subcommittees of the Iowa House and Senate both advanced a bill proposed by Attorney General Brenna Bird to increase the penalties on the distribution of drugs that lead to death.

The bill creates a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, for drug dealers who unintentionally cause the death of another by manufacturing or providing illegal drugs. Previously, prosecutors could only charge dealers with involuntary manslaughter, a Class D felony, which has a maximum sentence of five years.

“We must stop overdose deaths and hold drug dealers accountable,” said AG Bird. “There is no safe illegal drug. This bill will toughen sentences, equip prosecutors for the war against dangerous drugs, and reduce drug-related deaths. I’m grateful the Governor and state legislature are committed to addressing this issue.”

470 Iowans died due to overdose in 2021, and the threat of exposure to fatal drugs, such as fentanyl, is ongoing. This bill seeks to address the rise in deaths by drug overdoses and to hold illegal-drug dealers and users accountable. It also incentivizes the reporting of drug-related overdoses. For repeat drug offenders, the 25-year sentence has a 70% minimum requirement.

The bill passed through subcommittees in both the House and the Senate today. It now moves to consideration by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

The bill can be found online here.

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