The “Good Samaritan Law,” or House Bill 4094, was officially signed through by the Oregon State Legislature early last month This law gives medical amnesty specifically to minors in possession of alcohol in the special case that they are getting a person medical attention due to an alcohol overdose.
The bill was passed unanimously, and not just in the state of Oregon. Washington, along with sixteen other states, have also passed their own version of the “Good Samaritan Law.”
In Oregon’s case, student testimonies were given by Oregon State University and Lane Community College students. Portland State’s Eric Noll, the Associated Students of PSU’s legislative affairs director and Harris Foster, ASPSU president, also made two lobbying visits.
Mario Parker-Milligan, legislative director of the Oregon Student Association, further explained the motivations behind Oregon’s recent enforcement of the law.
“We had multiple students testifying at both the house and senate committees on judiciary when hearings were conducted on the bill,” Parker-Milligan said. “We utilized our statewide lobby day on Feb. 11 to meet with every member of both committees and other members of the legislature, a total of 45 legislators, to build support. We had around 60 students in the capitol from universities and community colleges.”
Although this policy only extends to the use of alcohol, certain other bills have included the use of narcotics and included sexual assault reporting immunities.
At PSU, students have brought forward a “three-tiered policy,” as Noll described, that will include sexual assault cases. As of now, they are waiting until 2015 to run this through as a comprehensive policy bill.
“We’re seeking to, in the next legislative section, run a piece of legislation that relates to ‘good faith reporting’ of sexual assault,” Noll said. “So if someone is under the influence of narcotics [or] illegal drugs, or under the age of 21 and under the influence of alcohol, they can feel uninhibited to report a sexual assault or violent crime in that sense.”
Although PSU has prospective toward extensions in this policy, Parker-Milligan said that the board members have not yet agreed whether extending this law will be a priority at the state level, but gave a few words of advice to students who are interested in getting involved.
“I encourage students that may be interested in this type of advocacy to talk with their student government officials and encourage them to make this a priority if they see fit,” Parker-Milligan said.
“We will continue to monitor how this law is implemented and work with members of the judiciary committees if students decide this issue should be revisited in 2015 or beyond.”
The “Good Samaritan Law” and like policies, although targeted toward college students, “aren’t specific to college campuses either, they’re law for the entire state,” Noll said.
Noll further described the motivation for backing this bill and future similar policies as a part of ASPSU.
“We want to keep students safe even if they do make mistakes.”