Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Overdose prevention legislation soon headed to governor

As Texas' needle exchange legislation heads from the House to the Senate, another harm reduction bill - HB 225 by Guillen, aka the Good Samaritan overdose prevention bill - has passed both chambers and is all but on its way to the governor's desk. Your correspondent supported the bill in both chambers on behalf of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

The Good Samaritan piece of this bill creates a defense to prosecution for people who dial 911 during an overdose if they stay on the scene, cooperate with police, etc.. The bill had never moved far in past sessions but this year rocketed through the system early, with nearly unanimous support. Along the way, Sen. West's legislation expanding access to naloxone for first responders and people with a prescription got tacked onto the bill, creating a more comprehensive overdose prevention package which enjoyed wide support. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst was the lone "no" vote in the senate, joining four House members who opposed the bill.

Now, there's just one vote left who matters: Gov. Greg Abbott. Given news this spring that the state has dramatically under-counted opiod overdoses and the unquestioned effectiveness of naloxone at saving lives, it's hard to see a downside to the governor signing it, or an upside to making this his first veto. But you never know.

For more background on these naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws, see this extensive and detailed fact sheet from the Network for Public Health Law.

No comments: