State Representative Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville) and House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) today introduced legislation expanding Rep. Pscholka’s “Good Samaritan” legislation of last year, extending limited exemptions from prosecution to individuals of all ages for overdoses involving any controlled substance.
Rep. Pscholka last year authored Public Act 220 to exempt people under age 21 from certain prescription drug-related criminal charges in the event they are reporting life-threatening emergency situations. The expansion included in House Bills 5649 and 5650 extends limited immunity to people of all ages reporting a possible overdose for any controlled substance. Both bills have received strong bipartisan co-sponsorship.
“No one should ever have to think twice about saving a life,” Rep. Pscholka said. “This legislation isn’t about being soft on crime, it’s about being smart on crime and keeping people alive.”
Rep. Singh, who introduced HB 5650, said it’s important that people involved in medical emergencies know they can act responsibly without ramifications.
“Saving lives should be the top priority when someone is having an overdose, not charging the person reporting the medical emergency,” Rep. Singh said. “Our legislation extends protection to people of all ages and for all substances, because addiction doesn’t discriminate.”
Rep. Pscholka’s legislation from last year, now Public Act 220 of 2015, was motivated by the story of Mason Mizwicki, a Watervliet teen who passed away because of a prescription drug overdose. The tragic loss and subsequent activism of Mason’s mother Lori Mizwicki and aunt Brandi Huyser prompted him to sponsor the bill.
Lori Mizwicki said she supports the bill that expands protections for people who call for help.
“Mason was a wonderful son. He made a mistake,” Mizwicki said. “But Mason didn’t get to learn from his mistake. People of all ages need to know they can call for help and save a life.”
Brandi Huyser said overdoses are becoming unfortunately commonplace.
“This legislation alone will not solve all of our problems. We need to sit down with our children and have these conversations. We need community involvement.”
Carol Stockman of St. Joseph, who lost her 24-year-old grandson to a heroin overdose in 2014, has started a coalition to fight drug abuse called “Voice. Change. Hope.” The 88-year-old Stockman said the growth of drug abuse is alarming and it’s up to her generation to try to end the cycle of abuse.
“I cannot just stand by and watch what happened to Sam happen to other people,” Stockman said. “Giving this protection to people of all ages for all substances will be a giant step forward in identifying and treating addiction and preventing senseless deaths like that of my grandson.”