This week, I spoke to journalists from across the state at the 2019 Associated Press Legislative Planning Session. We discussed our priorities and important legislation we will be pursuing during the upcoming legislative session.

We must end the opioid crisis. While running for office, I talked about the devastating reality that Florida lost 14 people a day to opioid overdoses. Today the death toll has risen to 17.

According to the latest Medical Examiners Report, Fentanyl analogs contributed to more than 1,500 overdose deaths in Florida alone—THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. That is why, before I even took the oath of office, we began working to create a Statewide Opioid Abuse Working Group.

Our working group is already meeting to address the crisis, but we need to do more. During the upcoming legislative session, we will work with house and senate leadership to establish the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Drug Abuse.

This task force will study the cost of this crisis on state and local governments; identify available programs with proven success in combating opioid abuse; explore whether there is a need for additional regulatory activity; and, among other things, evaluate and identify ways to reduce the demand for opioids and decrease the supply.

I am grateful that Senator Wilton Simpson and Representative Chris Sprowls have agreed to sponsor this important legislation. There is not a corner of the state that has not felt the grave effects of this crisis, and I know each and every member of our great legislature will want to help us in this worthy endeavor.

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