Lifeline 911, a bill introduced by the K-State Student Governing Association that grants limited medical amnesty to minors suffering from an alcohol-related medical emergency, was passed by the Kansas House of Representatives by a 92-27 vote on Friday.
The bill returned to the Kansas Senate and a 36-3 vote sent the bill to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk, where he will choose to either sign it and make it a law, or veto the legislation, Brodie Herrman, senior in political science and SGA state relations director, said.
SGA representatives have not met with Brownback this academic year, but Herrman said he is confident the bill will have the governor’s support based on his past interactions with SGA members.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to talk with Brownback this year, but going off the support he voiced last year, we’re pretty confident the bill has his support,” Herrman said. “It even sounds like we have the attorney general’s support.”
Andy Hurtig, student body president and senior in accounting, said he believes the bill will have the governor’s support based on trends of nearby states.
“There’s a trend across the country of states passing similar legislation,” Hurtig said. “Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska all have similar laws, so that alone may put the governor on board.”
If the governor chooses to veto the bill, the process will begin again. Due to Kansas’ two-year budget cycle, the bill would have to be introduced under an entirely new student body president and administration, according to Herrman. He said, however, he is confident the bill has enough bipartisan support to gain the approval of the governor.
Herrman said he attributes the bipartisan success of the bill to the agreeable good intentions of the legislation.
“I think when people talk about it, they kind of take a step back and look at it from a bigger perspective,” Herrman said. “They may not want to say it, but it may save a 14-year-old kid at some point. It could save lives.”
Though the bill has received support from both sides of the aisle, Herrman said some legislators still do not support the bill.
“Some representatives tried to add amendments in the House, but those really went down in flames,” Herrman said. “Some people didn’t want it to apply to high school students, but we assuaged those concerns. This far along in the process, there’s not much opposition left.”
Hurtig said many of the critics misunderstand the intentions of the proposed law.
“We never proposed the law to encourage underage drinking,” Hurtig said. “We simply proposed it so that people will look out for each other. We want bad decisions to result in learning experiences, not end up costing someone’s life.”
Herrman, who authored the bill in April 2014, said he has followed the legislative process since the beginning, lobbying for the bill and working with state leaders in Topeka to see the bill through to the end.
“If this bill has taken two years of my life to get through, and it even saves one life, then it’s worth it,” Herrman said.
Pat Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students, said the student leadership’s initiative to share success across multiple terms and administrations has been an effective way to begin change.
“This is an incredible example of our student government realizing that it takes a couple of terms to make a huge difference in the lives of students they try to serve,” Bosco said. “Our politicians can learn a lot from SGA through this kind of continuity and sustained leadership.”