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Key heroin bill clears Legislature, heads to Dayton for signature

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: May 7, 2014 - 4:54 PM

A measure to allow first responders, law enforcement and some nonmedical professionals to administer a drug that can counteract the effects of a heroin overdose and also provides immunity to users who call 911 in the event of an overdose heads to Gov. Mark Dayton's office for signature.

 “I look forward to that first phone call from our firefighters and first responders saying ‘Dan, we saved one.’” said Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park. “Somebody’s kid is gonna be there for one more day.’”

The house voted 130-0 and the Senate 65-0 Wednesday to pass “Steve’s Law,” named after Steve Rummler, who died of a heroin overdose in 2011 following an addiction to prescription painkillers. The Minnesota Senate unanimously passed an earlier version in April, authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, whose daughter, Ariel Eaton-Willson, died in 2007 of a heroin overdose.

The bill enables cops and others to carry and administer Narcan, a drug that can counteract the effects of a heroin overdose within minutes. A separate provision offers immunity to drug users who overdose and those who call 911 for help. It was met with pushback from some law enforcement, who said it could get high-level drug dealers off the hook.

The number of heroin deaths in the Twin Cities has tripled since 2011, to 63 last year, with most of them taking place in Hennepin County. Hospital emergency rooms recorded nearly 3,500 visits from heroin users in 2011.

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