A bill supporting medical amnesty, a policy that would prevent individuals under the age of 21 from receiving Minor in Possession of Alcohol citations for seeking medical attention for themselves or others while intoxicated was overwhelmingly passed in the Michigan House of Representatives yesterday in a vote of 105-4.

The bill will which now heads to the state Senate, was sponsored by State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R–Harrison Township). He said the bill is crucial in potentially saving the lives of underage drinkers in perilous situations.

“This is a good bill to protect young people,” Forlini said in an interview. “We don’t want to see anybody get hurt or die because they fail to get help.”

While similar bills to House Bill 4393 have failed in the past, Forlini said this bill is “much more responsible,” noting that the legislation would require that the parents of the underage drinker be notified of their child’s behavior.

“I think that’s a critical difference right there,” he said.

Forlini added that the legislation only provides amnesty in cases of an emergency, unlike past bills.

“The other bills, they didn’t have to have necessarily a medical emergency,” Forlini said. “They just had to claim medical amnesty and they got out scot-free. There’s got to be a medical reason.”

State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) said he believes the current policy has a greater chance of being passed than former versions of the bill due to increased Republican support.

“(Similar bills) used to pass the Democratic House and then die in the Republican Senate,” Irwin said. “Now it’s passed a Republican house and it has a Republican’s name on the bill … maybe the Senate will follow their typical pattern of supporting bills that are from their party.”

Irwin said he was pleased with the passage of the bill, particularly in its efforts to prioritize the protection of the state’s youth.

“Basically in the Legislature today, we put public safety first and punishment first,” Irwin said. “It’s probably the first time in my time here in Lansing where we’ve passed a bill that I felt unequivocally positive about.”

Forlini said he doesn’t currently know which Senate committee the bill will be referred to, but noted that the committee could be determined as early as tomorrow, and he plans to testify on its behalf.

LSA junior Aditya Sathi, vice speaker of the Student Assembly of Central Student Government, authored a CSG resolution in support of medical amnesty that was passed in January. He is also an author of another resolution in support of medical amnesty that was passed by the Students Association of Michigan, an organization comprised of 12 public universities in the state, in addition to non-member schools Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan.

“I had no doubt in my mind that it was going to happen, it was just how soon it was going to happen,” Sathi said. “I’m happy to see that an issue that is seemingly common sense in my mind passed in the House with flying colors with very little opposition.”

Sathi said the bill’s strong victory in the House has made him hopeful that it will pass in the Senate, adding that he would like to attend the bill’s committee hearing.

“I will do my best to be there,” he said.

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