Police often look the other way because of these programs’ benefits. Among the bills that have been filed are one by state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, Senate Bill 305, and its companion, House Bill 2432, filed by Rep. John Raney, R-Bryan, which would allow individuals who are charged with minor drug crimes a defense in court that could protect them from prosecution if they were calling to report an overdose at the time they were charged. "We are definitely disappointed," she said. The bills would help cut down on disease infection, lawmakers say. Forty states and the District of Colombia have Good Samaritan laws on the books — some that go so far as to offer immunity from arrest for drug users who call to report overdoses and others that are stricter and offer only a defense at the time of prosecution. The Texas Good Samaritan Law states, “a person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency”. He said at the time that the legislation had "an admirable goal" but "did not include adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug users and drug dealers.". Coleman has filed similar legislation in previous sessions that did not get traction. Does Texas have a Good Samaritan Law? h�b```a``������� Ā B@V �8+!��l��� �zef``��a9���1A��9�����FWg����)��V�V����[ᑆ��8��͑���� Current Overdose-Related Protections in Texas Underage Drinking Good Samaritan Law – Alcoholic Beverage Code, Sec. Still, harm reduction advocates say the legislation would be a step in the right direction. Choose the plan that's right for you. NATIONAL DRUG USER ORGANIZING. Period. The recent conclusion of the 86th Texas Legislature means that, for at least two more years, Texas will remain one of the few states without a ‘Good Samaritan law’ providing basic legal protection from low-level drug offenses to 9-1-1 callers requesting emergency assistance for a suspected overdose… However, according to the CDC, people who use syringe services programs are five times as likely to enter substance abuse treatment and are more likely to stop injecting drugs. Some so-called Good Samaritan laws are even more insidious; Iowa’s law is a prime example. %%EOF Texas Good Samaritan Law. Another, HB 1722, filed by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, would allow programs only in those places where county commissioners had declared a public health emergency. He thinks the bills have a better chance this session because of the attention around the opioid crisis. A large portion of the new cases can be attributed to injection drug use. However, "underground" programs like the Austin Harm Reduction Coalition have operated for years in the state despite being technically illegal. In 2017, nearly 3,000 people in Texas died of drug overdoses, up 4 percent from 2016, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Texas lawmakers prioritize the state's opioid crisis, they will take another look at legislation intended to reduce harm done to drug users, including bills that would protect those who call police to report an overdose and others that would provide safe syringes. %PDF-1.6 %���� Texas protects its citizens through The Texas Good Samaritan Act. Many first responders to overdose do not call 911 for fear of arrest. In the Cedar Rapids case, the woman had called 911 to report an overdose earlier that week, and knew that doing so again would likely lead to her arrest. Research shows that fear of police involvement is the most cited reason for people not calling 911 during an overdose, with fewer than 50 percent of overdoses resulting in a call for help. "Most people don't want to break the law," Coleman said. The Act states: “a person who in good faith administers emergency care at the scene of an emergency or in a hospital is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is willfully or wantonly negligent In the Cedar Rapids case, the woman had called 911 to report an overdose earlier that week, and knew that doing so again would likely lead to her arrest. Cate Graziani, who is advocating for harm reduction bills on behalf of the newly formed Texas Harm Reduction Alliance, said that despite bipartisan support for the Good Samaritan legislation, it will face some scrutiny. In a nutshell, this law protects those who act in good faith to help others from facing a lawsuit if something were to go wrong while rendering aid. "Those who are still addicted are going to find a way to get high, and that’s going to be heroin. "This encourages individuals present at an overdose to call for help and save a life — a significant step in helping Texas to address this serious problem," Watson said. 5 The act became law on May 4, 2017, and applies to all controlled substances or illegal drugs. The Urban Survivors Union is a national drug users union mobilizing against the war on drugs. NO GOOD SAMARITAN LAW. A third bill, HB 746, filed by Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, would create syringe exchange pilot programs strictly in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties. There, immunity is provided only once to the caller and the victim. NATIONAL DRUG USER ORGANIZING. The laws also do not appear to increase the number of drug users, the data show. The Urban Survivors Union is a national drug users union mobilizing against the war on drugs.