So-called Good Samaritan legislation now faces a vote in the Rhode Island House, after winning quick passage in the Senate. The bill would protect people who help drug users dying from an overdose.
The Good Samaritan law would enable bystanders to administer a dose of the overdose rescue drug Narcan without worrying about a law suit. It would also protect people who call 911 from being charged with drug possession.
Unlike the previous version of this law, the immunity would also cover parole or probation violations.
And the bill has no expiration date, meaning the law would remain effective indefinitely.
Overdose prevention advocates applauded the senate passage of the bill. The state’s attorney general has been opposed to some versions of the bill.
The House vote is expected next week.
Lawmakers were poised to consider extending the legislation last summer when it "sunsetted," but failed to take action before the end of the session.
Now it has a chance of passing, say some lawmakers, because the overdose crisis has not abated.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has praised the Senate's passage of the bill. A task force she convened to prevent drug overdose deaths is currently at work on plans to implement their recommendations. The overall goal is to reduce drug overdose deaths by a third in a few years.