Monday, June 01, 2015

Greg Abbott to veto harm reduction legislation

Grits was informed this afternoon by Rep. Ryan Guillen's staff that the governor will veto HB 225 creating a defense to prosecution for people who call 911 during a drug overdoses. Because, why would you want to prevent a drug user from dying? Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have passed Good Samaritan laws that protect overdose witnesses and victims who request emergency medical assistance

The bill passed 140-4 in the Texas House and 30-1 in the Senate, so until now it didn't seem controversial.

Thankfully, a portion of the bill expanding access to naloxone, an opiod antagonist, passed as a standalone, SB 1462, and also went to the governor. Maybe that piece will make it through.

See prior Grits coverage here, here, and here, and the House Research Organization report (pdf, p. 21) on the bill. See also a detailed (88 page) fact sheet on Good Samaritan laws and overdose prevention from the Network for Public Health Law.

What a terrible decision. That doesn't bode well.

UPDATE (6/2): The bill has been formally vetoed. Reported the Texas Tribune, "In a veto statement Tuesday, Abbott said HB-225 lacks 'adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug abusers and drug dealers.' He noted his office came up with amendments to address the concern, but they did not make it into the final version of the bill." That's a bit of a half-truth. First, Abbott's people never raised concerns with the House author at all, waiting to intervene after the bill had already won overwhelming approval in the lower chamber. And second, some of Abbott's amendments were accepted, but the rest were designed to thwart the fundamental intent of the bill. Plus, his staff kept moving the target. Some observers believed Abbott's amendments would have made the bill worse than current law in terms of providing disincentives for calling 911 in an overdose emergency. Further, there's really no valid use case where "misuse" can even be credibly hypothesized, all the valid concerns were entirely addressed. But a veto doesn't need credible argument, just a stamp and a signature. 

MORE: See additional coverage from the Dallas Observer


Soronel Haetir said...

So given the extremely lopsided majorities in both houses shouldn't this be an easy override for the legislature? Or does the very short active session come into play so that they are working against the clock even on something they have already passed? (I am not particularly familiar with TX process so the latter is a real question).

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The legislative session is over, there's no opportunity to override. The veto period extends three weeks after they leave.

Anonymous said...

Greg Abbott should be ashamed of himself. This short sighted, ignorant decision makes absolutely no sense and shows just much Abbott cares about people struggling with addiction. It could be his family member that needs 911 called to save his life someday. What an idiot!

Anonymous said...

The last two Texas governors plus the current one have all been idiots. Fortunately, to data, neither Perry nor Abbott have been able to mess things up on a global scale, like Bush43. Send 'em all to Palau.

Anonymous said...

I am upset that Abbott said that marijuana will not be legalized on his watch. So instead we are having hundred of young folks become sick using the fake pot. Not sure how many are dead or brain damaged from this crap. I think it is as dangerous as meth! When are these so called "educated legislatures and Governor" going to wake up???

This session was all about carrying handguns and keeping women from having abortions! That applies to 3% or less of the population of Texas.

Thank God the session is over!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03:00-- Allowing marijuana legalization would make the Governor appear to be soft on crime (especially dope-smoking hippie crime). He doesn't care what happens to them K2-smokers (after all, there criminals too!).

Doesn't any politician listen to his constituents?

Anonymous said...

I second that ,,that fake pot is destroying our town zombies that's what they look like.. I saw an overdose on this fake weed less than a month ago. Its very disturbing to see right on the street in front of my house . He looked like a fish out of water still swimming and fighting
Ya he the governor expanded civil rights for only a few Texans not all. Can't owe taxes or child support,cant be charged with dui and the list goes on and on why you won't get the license ,only a few selected Texans can legally get a license . If that's not infringement I don't know what that word means then..

Anonymous said...

My take on it all along is that decriminalization will be slow coming to Texas. As to the veto of harm valid reason can be offered.

Prison Doc

Anonymous said...

Aren't you glad the legislative sessions are only 140 days and come only once every two years? Think how much they could screw things up if the sessions were longer and were every year. Those that changed the state's constitution knew what they were doing.

Anonymous said...

To: Those that vote just to be voting and/or vote straight ticket without getting to know anything about the person behind the tat on their foreheads -

The Republicans of Texas thank you for your continued blind support. Now that we have some quiet time you may place your heads back in the sand.

As for the others, since you didn't vote R this time around, you are excused (and basically have nothing to say if you failed to vote at all). Since the D's decided to run an unqualified candidate, the blame is laid at their feet regarding throwing the bout. Gawddame gangs and their dumb ass followers, we salute you.

Sheadyn said...

I am disappointed with this veto and I bet the House and Senate are too, since almost everyone voted for it. If a someone takes makes a poor decision and takes drugs, they should be able to have a chance to receive emergency medical care to save their life without fear of prosecution...just my opinion.