ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota House overwhelmingly passed a bill to try to slow down a surge in state heroin deaths on Wednesday.
The bill, called “Steve’s Law,” makes it easier to call 911 without penalty if there’s a heroin overdose. And it also distributes a heroin antidote for overdose emergencies.
The law is named for Steve Rummler, who died from a heroin overdose in 2011 after he became addicted to prescription painkillers.
Lawmakers on the House floor wore purple to honor him and others who died. Michon Jenkin of Savage lost her daughter, Ashley, to an overdose.
“There are no words,” Jenkin said. “There is a hole that is so empty, when I know she could have been saved had this been in place.”
The bill, authored by Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove) allows first responders and non-health care professionals to carry Nalaxone, which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose. And it protects callers, even if they have criminal background.
“Just because you’re on probation or parole, we want you to call because Minnesota values life more than we do punishment,” Schoen said.
Rummler’s fiancé, Lexi Reed Holtum, helped organize the effort to pass the law, and helped create the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. The law comes as heroin deaths in Minnesota are approaching record numbers.
“If we get the drug into the hands that can reverse an opioid overdose death, it will save lives,” Holtum said.
It’s too late for the parents in purple who wore pictures of their children to the Capitol. But Maria Dusterhoft of Maplewood, who lost her son Tony to an overdose, says it’s not too late for others.
“If you don’t think this can happen to you, you’re wrong,” Dusterhoft said. “It can.”