State Rep. Jason Perillo joined his fellow colleagues and concerned citizens and organizations at the state Capitol on Tuesday for a press conference to call on the Senate to pass a House bill to strengthen penalties on fentanyl.

"This bills passed with bipartisan support in the House and the Senate should join us in looking to strengthen the penalties for dealing fentanyl," said Perillo.

"We must do anything we can to stop the opioid epidemic and passing this legislation will help send a message to all the bad actors out there that Connecticut is not messing around," added Perillo. "If you are caught selling or manufacturing this deadly drug you will go to jail for a long time."

House Bill 5524, was introduced by the House Republican Caucus. Perillo said the bill would change the definition of narcotic substance to include fentanyl the same category as heroin. As the law is currently written, fentanyl is listed as a synthetic drug, which is a lesser penalty.

Perillo has previously stated that in 2016 the Derby Police Department stopped a tractor-trailer on Route 34. After searching the tractor-trailer, the police discovered a large amount of fentanyl estimated to be worth $1.5 million. The driver was recently only sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Data from the Chief State Medical Examiner’s Office shows an increase in deaths related to fentanyl from 2015-2018. In 2018, 760 of the 1,017 deaths related to opioids contained a form of fentanyl. In 2015, 189 of 729 deaths related to opioids contained a form of fentanyl.