Senate panel OKs bills to help stop overdoses in libraries

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LANSING, Mich. — A Senate committee on Tuesday approved legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Margaret O’Brien, that would allow public libraries to stock naloxone, an antidote used to treat an opioid overdose in an emergency.

“There has been a tremendous rise in opioid abuse in our state — including a drastic increase in the number of overdoes happening in public libraries,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Libraries are open to the public and offer calm and peaceful places for people suffering with addiction. As a result, librarians are increasingly finding themselves on the front line of this epidemic.

“This legislation is designed to help save lives by giving our librarians the ability to administer a proven and effective remedy to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — without fear of civil liability or criminal prosecution.”

Senate Bills 828 and 829 would allow public libraries to purchase and stock an opioid antagonist. Under the bills, library employees would be able to carry and administer the medication if they have been trained how to properly give an opioid antagonist and they have reason to believe the person is experiencing an opioid-related overdose.

The bills would provide similar civil and criminal protections to library employees that were enacted for school employees in 2016.

“It is unfortunate that our librarians are having to face these life-or-death situations,” Jones said. “Certainly, we should make sure they never have to consider the legal ramifications as they act to save lives.”