Governor Mills Says the New Good Samaritan Law Needs More Work
Governor Janet Mills didn't veto the expanded Good Samaritan law but instead suggested it needs more work.
What is the Good Samaritan Law?
Maine's current Good Samaritan law allows immunity from prosecution for any person who overdoses on drugs, and also for the person who calls 911 to get the medical attention they need. Governor Mills signed the original bill, initiated by Representative Barbara Cardone of Bangor, into law in 2019.
By signing this legislation, we take another step toward ensuring people seek help to survive an overdose and can pursue life-saving treatment for substance use disorder.
On Tuesday, Governor Mills was considering whether to approve or veto an expansion to the law, sponsored by Senator Chloe Maxmin.
What's the Expansion to the Law Passed by Legislators?
The new expansion would grant immunity to nearly everyone at the scene of an overdose. LD 1862 states that there are exceptions to the law, including anyone accused of violent crimes or for a violation of probation or conditions of release. Violent crime is defined, in the measure, as things like sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping, criminal restraint, robbery, criminal forced labor, sex trafficking, or a sexually violent offense.
What is Governor Mills Proposing, Instead of Approving or Issuing a Veto?
As a former prosecutor, Mills has expressed reservations about the measure that contains such sweeping immunities for fear that it would protect drug dealers from prosecution. But she also wants to find solutions to the opioid crisis that's gripping the state. So, on Tuesday, Governor Mills decided not to veto LD 1862, but not to approve it either. She's sending it back to the Legislature so they can find a way to narrow its scope.
I do not want to veto this measure only to have the end result be that we disagreed and made no progress at all on the Good Samaritan law. I believe there is a consensus middle ground that we can all support.
She has vowed to sign a majority report, as recommended by the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee if it's brought to her desk. Mills says it would allow for immunities without hamstringing law enforcement to act when needed.