State of Oregon.

Chamber testifies in support of House Bill 4002

February 2024

On February 7, Jon Isaacs, the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Portland Metro Chamber, addressed the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety, chaired by Senator Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) and Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend), advocating for immediate action against the rampant proliferation of fentanyl in Portland.

Isaacs highlighted the collaborative efforts undertaken over the past two years with various stakeholders, including city authorities, law enforcement, and community organizations, to revitalize downtown Portland. Isaacs expressed deep concern over the escalating crisis of public fentanyl use and open-air dealing, labeling it as the foremost challenge facing not just downtown but the entire city. Despite substantial investments of public and private funds, the relentless spread of fentanyl continues to thwart progress on homelessness and crime, undermining efforts to improve affordable housing.

The Chamber’s testimony urged lawmakers to acknowledge the failure of decriminalizing hard drugs like fentanyl, emphasizing the need for accountability and consequences for possession.

“It’s time to admit, that no matter how good the intentions were, it was a mistake to decriminalize hard addictive drugs, especially a super drug like fentanyl,” Issacs said. “We can tell you from the day-to-day work on the streets, that we’ve lost control of the problem and if we are to have any chance of turning this around, we have to do four things that are all a part of HB 4002.”

Isaacs outlined four crucial components of HB 4002 that align with the Chamber’s objectives:

  1. Accountability: Making possession of hard drugs a crime with meaningful consequences, coupled with diversion pathways into drug and mental health treatment.
  2. 24/7 Gateway to Sobering, Treatment, and Recovery: Mandating the establishment of 24/7 first responder drop-off sobering centers, serving as entry points to comprehensive services for homeless addicted residents.
  3. Crackdown on Drug Dealing: Enforcing stringent penalties for fentanyl dealers, particularly in proximity to shelters, treatment facilities, and parks.
  4. Urgent Deployment of Funds for Treatment Facilities: Expedited allocation of dedicated funds to expand drug treatment, recovery, and mental health services.

The Chamber’s testimony concluded with a fervent call for legislative support for HB 4002, urging swift action to address the fentanyl crisis. It serves as a rallying cry for decisive action against the fentanyl epidemic, underscoring the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors to safeguard the city’s future.

Read the full letter to the Oregon State Legislature.