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State senate passes heroin antidote bill; House weighs its version

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The state Senate Tuesday passed legislation allowing emergency personnel to administer a heroin antidote, called Narcan, in the case of an overdose, and providing immunity from prosecution for people who call 911.

The law is named "Steve’s Law," after Steve Rummler, who died from a heroin overdose in 2011, WCCO reports.

His family began the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, which spearheaded efforts to pass the law.

Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, authored the bill, which passed unanimously 65-0.

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's bill would allow first responders, police officers and prevention program staffers to carry and administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts the effects of an overdose, The Star Tribune reports.

Advocates say administering the drug at the scene could potentially save lives.

Here in the Twin Cities, heroin-related deaths are on the rise.

MinnPost reports such deaths have risen sharply in Hennepin County since 2008, when six people died from overdoses. The number for last year: 54.

In 2011, there were an estimated 3,493 emergency room visits related to heroin in the Twin Cities metro area, more than triple the number in 2005 and almost double the number in 2009.

Despite some concerns that immunity could jeopardize some drug investigations, Eaton 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,” the Star Tribune reports.

“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.”

Other cities around the country have enacted similar laws.

A House version of the bill is expected to be debated before the end of session.

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