In Short

Lawmakers forge bipartisan compromise on opioid overdose bill

By: - June 16, 2023 5:49 pm

People across Oregon suffer from an addiction to heroin and other opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Oregon lawmakers reached a compromise on a bill that would make medication that reverses opioid overdoses more widely available.

Most of the proposal stays intact. House Bill 2395 would make naloxone – the lifesaving medication that stops overdoses from progressing – more widely available in different settings, including public schools and public buildings. First responders would give naloxone kits to people who are at risk for a future overdose.

The compromise centered around parental rights. Republican lawmakers were concerned that as originally written, the bill would have allowed children under 15 to receive addiction and behavioral health treatment without parental consent. 

The Senate Committee on Rules passed an amendment on Friday that eliminates that provision of the bill and makes other changes. 

In submitted testimony, Rep. Maxine Dexter, D-Portland, said the bill will start saving lives once it passes. She said she valued Sen. Cedric Hayden’s concerns about parent notification. 

“Taking this provision out at this time makes far more sense because the greater good would be advanced rather than making no compromises,” Dexter, also a physician, said in an interview.

Under the amended bill, schools would be required to immediately notify parents or guardians if staff have to administer the medication to their child.

“I was very concerned about parental consent,” Hayden, R-Fall Creek, said in an interview. “One of the big things that we got out of it was the parents have to be involved if this involves a 14-year-old or under without exception.”

Hayden, a dentist, said he’s happy with the outcome after working on the amendment with Dexter.

The amendment also changes liability protections for schools and staff from lawsuits. The bill now aligns with Oregon’s existing Good Samaritan law, which protects people who make good faith efforts to help those overdosing but still allows lawsuits in cases of gross negligence.

The bill goes to the Senate for a vote.


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Ben Botkin
Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.