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Michigan lawmakers moving quickly on opioids in libraries

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Legislation allowing libraries to stock and administer opioid overdose drugs is on pace to reach the governor’s desk by June. The state Senate Health Policy committee approved four bills Thursday.

The committee's chairman, state Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) says libraries have becomean unlikely front in the opioid epidemic as addictsoften seek shelter in public libraries.

“If they can’t have EMS there quick enough … this gives them the opportunity to administer the NARCAN to save somebody’s life,” says VanderWall. 

One of the bills making its way through the Legislature would give liability protection to library staff members if they administer the drug to someone who’s overdosing. That’s a top concern for Michigan’s libraries.

“While no one wants to be in a position to have to administer this life saving drug, the fact is our librarians are on the front line dealing with this issue on a regular basis” says Kristin Shelley, Michigan Library Association president. “Providing libraries with protection from civil and criminal liability like that afforded to schools would assist in making sure libraries are able to more easily access and administer to opioid overdoses in and around the library.”

Sen. VanderWall agrees the added liability protection for library staff is needed.

“You don’t want to have somebody sued over attempting to save somebody’s life,” says VanderWall.

VanderWall expects the legislation will reach the governor’s desk before state lawmakers take their summer break. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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