House unanimously approves Rep. Schoen's bill granting immunity for drug OD reporters
Rep. Dan Schoen
Today, in a rare unanimous vote, the House approved Rep. Dan Schoen's bill granting immunity from prosecution to those who report drug overdoses.
The legislation is meant to prevent tragedies like one that unfolded recently in Mankato, where 17-year-old Chloe Moses died after overdosing on synthetic drugs. Though Moses was in distress, her boyfriend and another person who was hanging out didn't call 911. Paramedics weren't called to the scene until Moses's mother came out from work and found her having a seizure. She was pulled off life support three days later.
Schoen, a DFLer from Cottage Grove, is a police officer.
"In all my years responding to these calls for help, I've never been part of the prosecution of someone who has called," Schoen tells us. "But people have a fear they will get in trouble if they call."
Exempted are cases where a person reporting an overdose is found to have more than three grams of drugs in their possession.
"That's quite a bit of drugs -- it's like 30 of the little balloons that heroin users have," Schoen says. "These are felonies we're providing immunity for but the bottom line is we value life more than we do punishment."
Asked why the three-gram limit was set, Schoen says, "If there's a big bundle there are other issues that are problematic, and we had issues with law enforcement and prosecutors."
The Senate already passed a version of the bill by a unanimous vote, so suffice it to say there's little doubt Gov. Mark Dayton will sign it into law.
"This has been a really emotional bill for me to carry," Schoen says. "There's a lot of people in this body that have come to me personally with family stories and a personal connection to addiction through families and friends. There's been a lot of tears shed in my office about the good this bill could've done for other families."
"Everybody is somebody's kid," Schoen says. "Let's not leave people for dead."
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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