The Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a bill that would equip first responders with a crucial antidote to heroin overdoses and also provides immunity for people who call 911, even if they may be users themselves.
The measure, nicknamed “Steve’s Law” authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, passed 65-0 Tuesday afternoon. The law is named for Steve Rummler, who died from a heroin overdose in July 2011 after he became addicted to prescription painkillers. His family began the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, which spearheaded efforts to pass the law. The House version of the bill is expected to be debated before the end of session.
The first prong of the bill allows first responders, police officers and prevention program staffers to carry and administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts the effects of an overdose. Administering the drug at the scene, advocates say, could potentially safe lives.
Eaton’s own daughter, 23-year-old Ariel Eaton-Wilson, died from a heroin overdose in 2007. The man with her that day did not call 911 immediately, instead hiding evidence from police. By the time she was taken to the hospital and given Narcan, it was too late.
“This is to get people like the young man who was with my daughter to call 911 instead of hiding things, and denying to the people around that he knew what was going on.” Eaton told the Senate floor shortly before the vote. Despite some concerns that immunity could jeopardize some drug investigations, She added that a poll of four surrounding sheriff’s offices revealed that none had made arrests as a direct result of 911 calls from an overdose scene.
Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, said he voted against a similar measure “Because I didn’t want to reward somebody for what they should do anyway.” However, he changed his mind this year because “I want to reward someone for doing right.”
“Steve’s law removes the prosecution for the greater good, members, for life,” Hall said. “I will be supporting this because I think it’s important that we look at the greater good in this situation.”