Medical amnesty bill passes in Mich. Senate
A bill to protect underage drinkers in medical emergencies likely is on its way to becoming a law after being passed in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday morning.
The medical amnesty bill, which would amend the Michigan liquor control code of 1998 to shield minors who seek medical help for themselves or a friend, passed the Senate
unanimously with a vote of 38-0.
Aaron Letzeiser, ASMSU director of governmental affairs, said it will be good to have the policy officially in the books to ease the fear of minors who consume too much alcohol. ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, has pushed for the bill’s passage in legislative sessions for the past several years but to no avail.
“It’s exciting to finally see it come to fruition after having worked on it for so long,” Letzeiser said. “It’s been an exciting journey, and I’m glad that it’s finally going to be done.”
Last month a version of the bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 105-4.
Before the bill — originally introduced in 2011 in the House of Representatives by Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township — can make its way to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk, it will return to the House for a final concurrence vote on amendments concerning criminal sexual conduct.
The Senate version of the bill adds protections for victims of sexual assault who have consumed alcohol, so they do not feel reluctant to report a sexual assault for fear of being charged for a minor in possession, or MIP, said Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, who worked on different versions of the bill in the past.
Letzeiser said the protections already were inherent in the bill, but the amendments make it more explicit. The bill likely will pass the House and move to the governor, who is expected to sign it,
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored a similar version of the bill in the Senate, said when he worked with the Eaton County Sheriff Department, he saw many cases of young people who had consumed alcohol, some with fatal results.
The bill aims to prevent deaths related to binge drinking and ensure minors are able to receive medical assistance if necessary.
“I feel quite strongly that we want to get people who make that mistake help before it’s too late,” he said.
Meadows said he was pleased to see the bill pass in the Senate, and the amendments have strengthened the bill during the legislative process.
“Life is more important than writing a ticket for an MIP,” he said.
Psychology junior Brianna Miner said when she drinks, she usually is with friends who would take care of her.
But Miner said some people might be in a situation where they require medical assistance beyond what their friends can provide.
“I do think realistically it will be a benefit,” she said. “You never know who’s going to need help.”