Sen. McCortney says allowing schools to administer opioid overdose med could save lives

State Sen. Greg McCortney has filed legislation to add school nurses or other designated employees to those who can administer life-saving opiate antagonists.  Currently, state law includes first-responders, including emergency medical technicians, law enforcement and firefighters.  Senate Bill 85 would amend that law to include school medical personnel or an employee designated by the school’s administration to be able to administer opiate antagonists, a treatment that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, allowing time to seek emergency medical care.

McCortney said the bill was a request from the State Department of Education.

“It’s a proven fact that opiate antagonists can save lives,” said McCortney, R-Ada.  “We just want to be certain that if school employees should need to administer this medication, they have the same legal protections given to others under state law.”

McCortney said not all schools have a nurse on staff full-time, if at all, so the bill allows administrators to designate other staffers to administer the medication to a student showing signs of an overdose. Under SB 85, those designated would undergo training by the Department of Health, law enforcement or another appropriate entity to learn how to recognize overdose symptoms, how to perform basic resuscitation techniques and how to properly administer an opiate antagonist.

According to the State Department of Health, opioids are the most common class of drugs involved in overdose deaths in Oklahoma, with prescription drug overdoses killing more Oklahomans than car accidents.  The Centers for Disease Control reports that nationally, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017. 

The National Association of School Nurses endorses making opiate antagonists available for use in schools and the U.S. Surgeon General has encouraged the use of antagonists to prevent overdose deaths.

In recent years, the Oklahoma Legislature has passed several bills to curtail prescription drug abuse and take a more pro-active approach to fighting opioid abuse, addiction and prevent deaths.

“Last summer, I attended a national legislative conference on the opioid crisis, and I was very proud when one of the presenters pointed to the Oklahoma State Legislature as leading the nation in the laws we’ve passed to fight this epidemic,” McCortney said.  “Senate Bill 85 will give us another important tool in this fight.”

For more information, contact Sen. Greg McCortney at 405-521-5541, or email mccortney@oksenate.gov.

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Sen. Hicks wants voters to decide whether lawmakers can return to teaching after leaving office

State Sen. Carri Hicks is among a group of educators who sought public office in 2018 to fight for Oklahoma public schools.  But by law in Oklahoma, when these legislators complete their service at the Capitol, they cannot return to the classroom for two years unless a school can find alternative funding that does not include state dollars. Hicks wants to give Oklahomans the opportunity to change that law and has filed Senate Joint Resolution 8. She’s dubbed the legislation the “Right to Return.”

“Current law actually prevents legislators from accepting any job paid with state dollars for the first two years after leaving office.  I’m sure it was designed to prevent any deals with a state agency or other institution that could result in a high-paying job awaiting them as a result of efforts undertaken for that agency,” said Hicks, D-Oklahoma City.  “But with teachers, it’s simply a matter of being able to return to the job they were doing before seeking office.”

Although the Legislature approved a significant pay increase for teachers during the 2018 session, Oklahoma has continued to issue record numbers of emergency certifications to address an ongoing teacher shortage. Hicks said given those circumstances, her proposed state question makes good sense.

“My fellow educators and I came here because we believed it was important to the future of our children and the future of our state to have that kind of representation from teachers here in the Legislature,” Hicks said.  “I think it would benefit students to allow experienced educators to return to the classroom upon leaving office rather than making them sit out for two years.  Some may not be able to wait that long and might have to leave teaching altogether.  Getting educators back into our schools where they can share their first-hand experience in government would be of tremendous value to our students and our communities.”

“No one is getting rich from a teacher’s salary, but educators do enrich the lives of the children they teach. Ultimately, this is something I would really like Oklahoma citizens to have the opportunity to decide.”

            For more information, contact Sen. Carri Hicks at 405-521-5543 or email carri.hicks@oksenate.gov.