Schools in South Dakota would be able to buy opioid antidotes and train people how to use them under legislation that passed Tuesday in the state House of Representatives.
House members added an emergency clause so school boards could start passing rules and getting training in place as soon as Governor Kristi Noem signs the bill into law.
That won’t be for at least several more days, however. SB 84 has to return to the Senate for a decision whether to agree with the change.
The House vote Tuesday was 69-0.
Representative Kevin Jensen, a Canton Republican, explained the purpose behind the bill.
“If it saves one life, it’s well worth it,” he said.
Jensen is the bill’s lead sponsor in the House. Schools could apply for grant funding to pay for the antidotes.
“If somebody’s having an opioid overdose, it gives them almost-instant relief and the symptoms go away almost instantly. If they’re not having an opioid issue and it’s something else, there’s absolutely no harm to them. It’s a totally harmless drug to administer,” Jensen said.
“What we’re asking is that school personnel be able to have this drug in their possession and train their staff to use it. It’s a very simple training procedure,” Jensen continued. “The school district would decide how many people to train. It could be a school nurse. It could be any number of people.”
He added, “The reason for the emergency clause is, for schools to be prepared for school to start this fall, and their school boards are going to have to decide whether they’re going to do this or not, and then they will need a first and second reading, so what we’re hoping they could do is, either April or May, the first and second readings, and have their staff trained over the summer, so when school starts they would have staff available and ready to go.”
Representative Tim Rounds, a Pierre Republican, agreed with the amendment.
“The emergency clause I think is what we would consider an emergency, so we could have this implemented by the time school starts for the 2019-2020 school year. And the only way to do that is have this go into effect when the governor signs it. I believe the governor will sign this bill,” Rounds said.