By Anna Rozenberg, Managing News Editor
Published April 18, 2012
Today in a unanimous 38-0 vote, the state Senate passed a medical amnesty bill — House Bill 4393 protecting underaged, intoxicated students who seek medical attention from receiving Minor in Possession of Alcohol citations.
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Cynthia Wilbanks, the University’s vice president for government relations, said there were many students who supported the bill.
“I do know that for a lot of our students who had been advocating for this type of legislation that a lot of energy over the last several years has been expended raising the case for this type of reasonable approach — especially to protect the safety of our students who find themselves in the circumstances that the bill seeks to address,” Wilbanks said.
However, Wilbanks said the bill’s underlying issues should not be forgotten and the University should continue trying to educate students about responsible behavior.
“Once the bill is enacted the University community ... will also think about how to inform our students about what the legislation addresses,” she said.
State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor), a supporter of the bill, said he thinks the vote today was a good thing.
“It will be positive, for I think, public safety and public health to make sure people who are in trouble get the help they need,” Irwin said. “In the past, young folks were worried about criminal consequences for seeking medical attention for themselves and for friends and now this barrier is gone.”
Irwin said he does not foresee any continuing controversy related to the bill.
“I think the bill enjoyed broad partisan support because it just makes so much sense,” he said.
State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R–Harrison Township) sponsored the bill and said he is also happy that the bill is “moving forward” in the legal system.
“It’s moving in the right directions,” he said. “I hope to get this done quickly so as we get into the prom season and whatnot we can bring help to those kids that maybe have done wrong and need to be helped.”
Forlini added that he thinks the bill hasn’t had much controversy due to the care that went into writing it.
“We took a lot of time writing the bill to make sure it wasn’t going to be abused, to make sure it wasn’t going to cause problems for law enforcement,” he said.
According to LSA junior Aditya Sathi — former vice speaker of the Central Student Government — the bill is currently back on the desks of the state House of Representatives due to an amendment added to the bill.
“If it passed once, it will passed twice,” Sathi said.
Sathi explained the amendment was intended only to clarify the original draft.
“The amendment basically included a clause to ensure that women or men who were sexually harassed but intoxicated at the same time and happened to be under 21 as well could still get medical attention,” he said.
Sathi said that in a previous conversation he had with Senator Roger Kahn, Kahn said he didn’t expect the bill to pass any time soon. Sathi pointed out that because the vote on the bill was unanimous, Kahn had to have voted in favor of the bill.
“People thought it was going to be more of a controversial bill,” Sathi said. “People made counter arguments so we weren’t sure how the senate was going to take it.
Sathi added that he expects Governor Rick Snyder to pass the bill and hopes the amended version is passed and finalized around mid-May.