The House Committee on Criminal Justice today approved bipartisan legislation introduced by House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) and state Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville) to expand the current Good Samaritan law, extending limited exemptions from prosecution to individuals of any age for overdoses involving all controlled substances.
The committee heard testimony from Reps. Singh and Pscholka, sponsors of House Bills 5649 and 5650. The lawmakers spoke about the success of Rep. Pscholka’s Public Act 220 of 2015, which exempts people under age 21 from certain prescription drug-related criminal charges in the event they are reporting life-threatening emergency situations.
“The committee’s quick action in reporting these bills out to the full House is an indication of how important this legislation is in saving lives in the midst of what appears to be a serious increase in drug overdoses,” Rep. Pscholka said. “Addictions do not belong to the upper class, the poor, the young or the old – it is a disease that affects every demographic. The intent of this legislation is to save lives, regardless of the drug used or the age of the person reporting the overdose.”
Rep. Singh said the reason life-saving calls are not made are fear of police involvement or arrest.
“Together, these bills offer limited exemptions from prosecution for any person, any age, and any substance,” Rep. Singh said. “Research shows that the most common reason for not seeking medical attention for a drug overdose is fear of police involvement or arrest. Our hope is that these bills can help reverse that trend.”
Also testifying before the committee were Lori Mizwicki, whose son Mason, a Watervliet teen who passed away because of a prescription drug overdose and who was the inspiration for PA 220; Mason’s aunt, Brandi Huyser, who has joined Lori Mizwicki in efforts to help save lives; and representatives of the Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The bills now go to the full House for consideration.