Senator Cortese’s Bill to Stop Fentanyl Deaths of Young Children Passes Senate Health Committee

The Senate Health Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed Senator Dave Cortese’s legislation to address fentanyl exposure among infants and toddlers. Spurred by the tragic news stories of children killed by fentanyl poisoning — including the death of 3-month-old Phoenix Castro in a San Jose apartment last May —SB 908 will strengthen California’s public health response to prevent more young children from becoming opioid victims.  

SB 908 has been incorporated into the ‘Working Together For a Safer California’ plan spearheaded by Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire. The plan comprises more than a dozen data-driven bills that will safeguard California's communities, businesses, and residents from the devastating effects of fentanyl and retail theft. With SB 908 now under its umbrella, the bipartisan plan will better provide comprehensive resources and tools to tackle the roots of fentanyl abuse.

“These horrific fentanyl incidents involving children, like the case of baby Phoenix, underscore the urgent need to establish and share best practices and guidelines across California's 58 counties,” said Senator Cortese (D-San Jose). “By standardizing our approach to crisis management, we can ensure a unified and effective response to protect young children. California must confront the fentanyl crisis head-on.”

SB 908 requires the State Department of Public Health to actively monitor and identify trends in fentanyl-related deaths among children aged zero to five. The DPH will develop preventive guidance and distribute the information to all 58 of California’s counties. The legislation requires annual reporting of findings and recommendations to local public health departments, county boards of supervisors, and the Legislature.

Senator Cortese has taken significant steps toward protecting youth from fentanyl overdoses. Last year, Governor Newsom signed Senator Cortese’s SB 10, known as “Melanie's Law,” which ensured that every public school in California is equipped with the necessary resources and training to prevent and respond to opioid overdoses at school. Specifically, SB 10 mandated that every public school in California provide training to school employees on opioid prevention and life-saving response under a formal plan known as a Comprehensive School Safety Plan. Additionally, SB 10 established a state framework to ensure that all students and adults understand the growing risk of youth fentanyl exposure, and could access resources needed to prevent and respond to fentanyl poisoning and overdoses.

Senator Dave Cortese represents Senate District 15, which encompasses San Jose and much of Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. Visit Senator Cortese’s website: